91 minutes| France| 1959| Subtitled| Black and White| 35mm

Invited after Night and Fog to make a documentary about Hiroshima, Resnais instead collaborated with the writer Marguerita Duras on a feature acclaimed as one of the masterpieces of the emergent nouvelle vague. A brief erotic encounter between a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) and a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) opens the door to a suppressed wartime memory of her love affair with a German soldier in Nevers that led to his death and her torture.

What stunned everyone at the time was not the theme but the complex interaction of time, memory and place: even today, the subliminal, shock flashback from the arm of her sleeping Japanese lover to that of her dead German soldier can jolt you out of your seat. It is a compassionate film about individuals scarred by terrible world events, and the simultaneous horror and necessity of forgetting in order for life to go on. In her debut film role, Emmanuelle Riva is extraordinary.

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