Just days ago, Cahiers du Cinéma named Alain Resnais's Wild Grass as the best film of 2009, so how very appropriate it is that the Recyclage de luxe Online Film Festival presents as its final film, free to viewers in the UK over 18, Renais's debut feature; it's practically a 50th anniversary presentation.
"'I think that in a few years, in ten, twenty, or thirty years, we will know whether Hiroshima mon amour was the most important film since the war, the first modern film of sound cinema.' That's Eric Rohmer," notes Kent Jones for Criterion, "in a July 1959 round-table discussion between the members of Cahiers du Cinéma's editorial staff, devoted to Alain Resnais's groundbreaking first feature. Rohmer's remark is in perfect sync with the spirit of the film, which, as he says later in the discussion, 'has a very strong sense of the future, particularly the anguish of the future.'... Godard took the road staked out by Roberto Rossellini, dissolving the barriers between film time and real time, fictional space and real space, stories and documentaries. But Resnais worked in a vein more reminiscent of Sergei Eisenstein, erecting a complex, rhythmically precise fictional construction in which pieces of reality are caught and allowed to retain their essential strangeness and ominous neutrality. Resnais has always been recognized as an innovator, but the term has a hollow ring. As a morally responsible artist committed to catching pieces of unaltered reality in a carefully constructed net of fiction, he has paved the way for many filmmakers, from the Francesco Rosi of Salvatore Giuliano to the Dusan Makavejev of WR to the Scorsese of Goodfellas and Casino to the Terrence Malick of The Thin Red Line."
"It remains a potent, intellectually stimulating work, a sustained examination of the bonds connecting nations, and the large gulfs of experience and understanding that separate them," writes Ed Howard.
See also: "Love and catastrophe: filming the sublime in Hiroshima mon amour," an essay by Reni Celeste that appeared in Studies in French Cinema in 2003.