Day 364: Asphalte + Hiroshima Mon Amour (March, 7)


Have you see it? TWO!!!

I cannot believe I came so far. And in such a high note. On this day, I watched one of the best movies in my life, for sure.

First, I saw Asphalte in an almost empty Cine Brasilia. I was lucky, because I laughed so loud that I would be ashamed in a more packed auditorium. It is indeed classified as comedy. Nevertheless, it is so heartbreaking sometimes that a few laughs were a good respite from all the loneliness on this movie.

The characters are just amazing, layered, complex, well presented. In what seems to be the ugliest building in the whole France, we see some of its inhabitants struggling with their daily lives. The ordinary and the impromptu extraordinary meet each other through those characters.  And when I say extraordinary, I really mean it. As the ordinary.

One example that is not a big spoiler: A guy lives alone in this building. In the community meeting, he is the only one to refuse to pay for a new elevator. He lives on the first floor and never uses it anyway, is his argument. Well then. Soon after, he suffers a bizarre accident and is not able to walk for a while. His only way out of his flat is, guess what?, the elevator. Ha.

I don't know why it is so easy to fall on those futile traps. It would be so much better just to get rid of it in each small part of our lives. Sometimes, we fell on this traps without even noticing. So dumb actually. I just loved this movie, the people in it. Madame Hamida reminded me so much of a friend's mother, she is amazing. And an example of how not to live by those pitfalls. Her life is far from easy, and probably because of that she is aware of what its worth her bother.

Isabelle Huppert and Jules Benchetrit have a great dynamic going on. They reaffirm how people who can relate to us in some way are the best in life. sometimes, they are the only salvation in a world full of empty spaces and inexplicable noises - it is that way at least until we decide to really pay attention to our surroundings, that's it.

Asphalte. Directed and written by Samuel Benchetrit. Cast: Isabelle Huppert,
Gustave Kervern, Tassadit Mandi. France, 2015, 100 min., Color (Cine Brasilia).

At night, I decided to finally watch a movie that I've been planning see for a long, long time. And here we get to the one of the best films ever.

Hiroshima Mon Amour I met for the first time in a History of Cinema class almost ten years ago. It was a three months free course near my work and it was great. I met again some old friends from college and could know better Sergio Moriconi, one of the teachers and a guy that keeps the movie scene alive in Brasilia. One night, he presented to us the first 15 minutes of this Alain Resnais film and I fell in love. In the kind of fear that affects me about movies, I was afraid of being disappointed. Today, I put an end to this silly caution.

At the end of the course, I gifted him an old edition of Marguerite Dura's book, that was waiting for me to finally decide to read in French. I bought another copy, and it is still there, waiting for me. 

My main remembrance of those 15 minutes were the french dialogue in voice-over by the two protagonists. Their voices, the sound of the words in French. Sentences being repeated in a quiet voice. Images of the two lovers and the city. The camera on the street, carrying us on its invisible bike. Just stunning. 

My whole memory of the movie was the sound of Hiroshima, in a French accent, said by Emmanuele Riva. 

LUI Tu n’as rien vu à Hiroshima. Rien.
ELLE J’ai tout vu. Tout. Ainsi l’hôpital, je l’ai vu. J’en suis sûre. L’hôpital existe à Hiroshima. Comment aurais-je pu éviter de le voir?
LUI Tu n’as pas vu d’hôpital à Hiroshima. Tu n’as rien vu à Hiroshima.
ELLE Quatre fois au musée…
LUI Quel musée à Hiroshima?
ELLE Quatre fois au musée à Hiroshima. J’ai vu les gens se promener. Les gens se promènent, pensifs, à travers les photographies, les reconstitutions, faute d’autre chose, à travers les photographies, les photographies, les reconstitutions, faute d’autre chose, les explications, faute d’autre chose. Quatre fois au musée à Hiroshima.
(Dialogue from Hiroshima Mon Amour, 1959).

She says that she's been there and saw. He says that she saw nothing. Both are right, in a different perspective of the experience of such an absurd event.

What is this experience that movies allow us? According some comments, Resnais' argument here is that a movie is not the true thing, as to say. Cinema is ilusion and that should be it. On the other hand, I've read once that some experiences, specially those of violent events, we know mainly thgrough filmes. To stay on the WWII area, the author referred to the Holocaust, that we now are aware of mainly by the movies about the subject. I would dare to say that our experience in this case is more like a recognition. We did not lived it - and, in this sense, she hasn't been in Hiroshima - but can experience the hideous violence, recognize the horror of it by movies and other ways of telling.

Inglourious Basterds, for example, assumes that beautifully when Hitler is killed by a machine gun, in a movie theater in flames. Cinema tells its own version of history, and it is up to us to discern what it is being said in the big screen. Another example: Son of Saul, that don't let us forget in an masterful way that movies are so good at. Remember, awareness, experience, by the way, are the subject in here.

And it is incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking. Memories is another matter of movies. Each movie has its own. We don't enter a theater without our own, and we don't leave, when the lights are on again, without new ones. Memory is the matter of life, as would say. As life is the main subject on movies, well, the rest is deduction.

The way Resnais revolves around memories of war and the way they shape the two lovers life is something out of the world. I was truly mesmerized. I couldn't be happier that I chose this movie to be with me at this particular time. Resnais here embodies the traumatic experience of war in a manner that take over our thoughts, heart, feelings.

I'm a bit sad that I cannot describe it better. However, and just maybe, it is the thing about such visceral art experience: we know it, we recognize it, we embrace it. But words are not just enough. Thanks all the Olympic gods (specially Prometheus) for movies: they put us right on the experience. Ok, one should say it is all ilusion and all that. Not for me. Movies are life. Fiction is a way to reach reality and the experience of being alive that any history book is able to tell in such a strong way. I'm grateful that Resnais changed his mind about making a documentary here.

At last: Emmanuele Riva. I've seen her before in another film bigger than life: Amour, by Michael Hanecke. Her voice her lead the way, along Eiji Okada. Two different experiences of the same war confronted in love and loss.

This movie was too much. It's still here, with me, in a devastating way. A kind of dreamy extasis. If it wasn't so late when I got to its end, I would have watched it all over again. I promise I'm not exaggerating. Seriously. I'm sure that it won't take long for me to see it again. And again. Like the words repeated by the two lovers.

In Never End to Paris, Enrique Vila Matas says that they had seen for real the office in the home at Coyoacán, in Mexico, where Trótski has been killed. I've saw it before on the movies. He talks about his first impression about the assassination - in a fictional tale - and what he was seeing for real. It is beautiful how he cannot separate both impressions. His experience about Trótski's murder was impregnated by both irremediably, even if he was surely able to distinguish between reality and fiction. That's not the question here, I must add. I think that if one day I'll find myself in Hiroshima, I will probably feel the same. I'll be there and I won't. As Elle, who saw Hiroshima and hasn't seen the same time.

Hiroshima Mon Amour. Directed by Alain Resnais. Cast: Emmanuelle Riva,
Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas. Writer: Marguerite Duras. France/Japan, 1959,
90 min., Mono, Black and White (DVD).

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