I was captivated by the black and white images and the lighting. I was drawn by the erotic nature of the film and how it forced me to question the overall message. How did the two relate? A French woman and a Japanese man. What did these two individuals have in common? What brought them together? Why are they so mysterious? We never truly know their names.
I realized that I never learned of the couple’s names when the final scene played. She called him “Hiroshima” and He called her “Nevers.” I felt like there was significance here. I turned to the internet to conduct a brief search. Both names are names of cities. Hiroshima, we know, is a place in Japan. More specifically, it is the place where the United States dropped an atomic bomb. Nevers, or Nièvre as it is known in French, is a place in France. Like Hiroshima, during World War II, Nevers was subjected to a lot of bombing and its people suffered. Now understanding this, I view the couple as one of mutualism.
He, Hiroshima as I will refer to him as, and her, whom I will refer to as Nevers, both shared a common experience during the War. Though the effects that resulted from the bombs were different, each person could relate to the other in some manner. Overall concept of the movie seems to have to do with memory and forgetfulness. Throughout their brief relationship, the two talk a lot about these notions. Nevers, in the introduction, talks about what she remembers from Hiroshima, but Hiroshima says she does not remember. Pictures, moving and still, flash interlude on the screen of the places Nevers speaks of. This segues into a scene where Nevers and Hiroshima are lying in bed.
In the beginning of the film, the two discuss the effects of the bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima. We are reminded of the effects of radiation such as losing hair, but are also reminded that the chemicals are invisible to the eye. This sense invisibility and anonymity translates over to the victims. Like Nevers and Hiroshima, whom I self-named, the victims of the bomb were not all identified or identifiable. We learn that Hiroshima was enlisted into the Imperial Japanese Army, and his family was in Hiroshima on the day the bomb was dropped.
There seems to be several layers of understanding. We can question Hiroshima and his intent. We can look at how their are different ways to cope and see pain and suffering. We can try to understand Nevers’s more personal take on history. We can look at the impact and magnitude that different events within the same time period have on an individual and a community.