Monday, October 20, 2008
Sometimes we remember events in bright spurts like in the bar scene as A “remembers” a moment that has been whitewashed in her mind. Even though flashing scenes as a person suddenly remembers is a convention of modern filmmaking, the high contrast between the black “real” world and the white “memory” world feels innovative. But sometimes we remember by repetition. As Resnais illustrates in the scene in which X tells A when they were in the bedroom yet showing them outside, if we repeatedly remember the wrong thing, then we have created a false memory that does not reflect what truly happened. Sometimes we recall moments in our lives as a performance as the opening scene demonstrates. People play their roles in our lives though sometimes we do not accurately remember what their roles were in reality. M starts off as a random hotel guest but as the film progresses he becomes A’s husband.
So what really happened to X and A? Are they even real people or a figment of someone's imagination? Even trying to watch the film a second time, I did not win. Resnais always wins by showing us how we play with our own minds to remember what we want to remember.
Monday, October 6, 2008
The women in both films are convinced by the men to be more sexually liberal. In Les Cousins, Florence decides that she wants to be with Charles living the idyllic domestic life. However, Paul and Clovis talk her out of it claiming that Charles could never sexually satisfy her the way Paul could. In A Girl Cut in Two, Charles convinces Gabrielle to sleep with his friends while he watches. Oddly, we do not see these scenes in A Girl Cut in Two yet we get them in Les Cousins. In Les Cousins, we see the overhead shot of Florence sitting in a chair as Paul and Clovis circle around her as they tell her that she could never be Charles’s ideal domesticated woman. We see Clovis pushing Paul onto Florence saying “You like his touch” and watching them kiss. In A Girl Cut in Two, we only see them go into the club and up the stairs. Charles introduces Gabrielle to his friends but does not explicitly state why they are there. We only learn about their deal through the dialogue between Gabrielle and Paul.
So why cut those scenes in this film and not in Les Cousins? I can imagine Gabrielle’s first experience at the club to be shot similarly to that scene in Les Cousins with Charles standing in for Clovis and his friend standing in for Paul. Perhaps a scene like that would have made identifying Gabrielle as an innocent victim too easy. In Les Cousins, Florence seems to have the same sexually ambivalent attitude as Paul and Clovis thus allowing Chabrol to maintain the distance between the characters and the viewer. If that scene played out in A Girl Cut in Two, we would see her complicity as a result of Charles’s pressure. With Florence, we would think that she would have slept with Paul anyway. By leaving those scenes out of A Girl Cut in Two, we could entertain the idea that Gabrielle might be more sexually liberal than she appeared.
Is A Girl Cut in Two supposed to be the modern Les Cousins? If it is, then Chabrol might be saying with this film, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Friday, October 3, 2008
As I mentioned before, I saw this film because I love In the Mood for Love but Hiroshima, Mon Amour seems more like Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 in its treatment of place and the past. In 2046, Chow Mo-wan is pre-occupied by the memory of his past affair with Su Li-zhen. 2046 is Chow’s Nevers because it is the hotel room number where they would meet to write a martial arts novel. Unlike the French woman, Chow revisits the past often through his novels in which his main character goes to a place called 2046 to recover the past. As Hiroshima is a place of a significant historical event, 2046 is also the last year that Hong Kong will be free of China’s interference in their economy and politics. In Hiroshima, Mon Amour, Hiroshima serves as a background to highlight consequences of remembering and forgetting trauma. In 2046, the year serves as a subtext for inability to move on as Chow cannot move on from his past affair despite having multiple lovers. Also, Chow has a similar scene in which he recounts his affair to someone. In his case, the woman has the same name, so he tries to recreate the feelings he had for Su with this woman. In comparing the two films, I can see how influential Hiroshima, Mon Amour is in its portrayal of remembering.