Psychology Of An “Impossible” Love (Without Symbiosis, Sentimentality, Philistinism, Vanity, Rivalry)

… a deconstruction of the amorous link…
Julia Kristeva, “Hatred and Forgiveness”, Columbia Univ. Press, 2010, p. 225

… Love needs re-inventing. It cannot be just a defensive action… It must be something that innovates.

Alan Badiou, “In Praise of Love”

Montage, for Eisenstein as for Resnais, consists in rediscovering unity from the basis of fragmentation, but without concealing the fragmentation in doing so.
David Bordwell, “On the History of Film Style”, Harvard Univ. Pr. 1997, p. 88

Continuity had been the credo of the period prior to the New Wave. The sense of fluidity, the continuity of movement and space, the use of dissolves, the highly attenuated, muffled sound and balanced mixing – all worked in concert so that nothing disturbed the magical sensation of being carried away by the story… But the New Wave …was interested in the confrontation between the singular story and the truth of life. This struggle between fiction and journalism gave rise to a real story that the film related… Skillful editing was used to promote the unforeseen, the accidental. There was no longer any point in stringing together a sequence of predetermined scenes… The director is interested in the visual and aural brakes, pauses and ruptures caused by events that burst into the camera’s field of view… Alain Resnais was one of the first to experiment with such techniques.
Jean Douchet, “French New Wave”, D.A.P./Destr. Art Pubs, Inc., 2000, p. 255

If we are to believe Louis Malle, “Hiroshima Mon Amour” is a hundred years ahead of today’s cinema. Claude Chabrol considers the film a work of genius, sublime. Francois Truffault, overwhelmed by the film, has repented and acknowledged the error of his ways. HMA remind me of the work of Pierre de Mandiargues or Klossowski, which delight literary hacks and critics but leave the rest of us in a state of terrible confusion. This is a film for film lovers, paved with clever innuendos, a film for those capable of grasping subtle references, a work composed with an edgy intelligence, startling refinement, and based on extremely subtle equivalences. But it flies a bit too high. Perhaps, it will be the beginning of the cinema of great virtuosi.
Jean Douchet, ibid, p. 130 – 131

This will be a self that feels entitled to play with its boundaries (rather than denying them or reifying them), and it will be a self more consistently able to experience a vitality of free association between emotions and events which ultimately grounds the human capacity to bear witness to history and to claim solidarity with the oppressed of history, past and present.
Erik L. Santner, “Stranded Objects (Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany)”, Cornell Univ. Pr., 1990, p. 162

Let that which seems ahead of us
Come a thousand miles behind us,
Let that which is thousand miles behind
Come to stand before us.

Marina Tsvetaeva, “Blizzard”, Selected Poems, 1965, p. 573

The impossible love is not only possible, it’s actual

Democratism of the exceptional
Sophistication of the demos
Elegance of the common
Extraordinariness of the human

Stylistic elimination of plot in the film functions as exclusion of Western civilization’s organic philistinism (that destroys the spirit of life as nuclear bomb – the very soul of living) from our farther history.

Psychotherapy inside love

Post-Biblical/post-mythological creation of human race

Identification with otherness as existential spirituality

Resnais and us

Alain Resnais is mesmerized by his future film “Hiroshima, mon amour”.
Alain Resnais is mesmerized by his future film “Hiroshima, Mon Amour”.

The fact that after nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, new plants, never seen before, appeared on Earth, creates an eerie feeling in the viewers at first, until we understand that this new types of life include us, the new generations after the nuclear weapon’s destructive power was tried on human beings. Will we continue to adapt to our everyday life, as if, nothing ever happened? Resnais’ film was to make a difference – to change our position towards life, and our way of existence.

New Adam and Eve (a demythologized version of creation of the world)

Daringly following his daring creative intuition Resnais represents making love between the hero and the heroine as a new, a post-Biblical creation of human species, a creation influenced by the tragic knowledge of nuclear destruction, a kind of possible new beginning for humankind, based on the knowledge of our own self-destructive potential.

A new, second creation is depicted by Resnais as the human attempt at resurrecting from nuclear catastrophe – from human ashes. In this shot we see how ashes under the alchemical influence of human love are, as if transformed into atoms of life.

It is the creation’s sacred gift of bodily love to human beings what made our resurrection after nuclear holocaust possible. But physical love is only the first step. How to cure human soul that was psychologically traumatized since our childhood and blindly revenging the world, is the main topic of the film.

“Atomic particles” of love, the opposite of atomic energies of destruction, are triumphantly transformed into human sweat of the two bodies together in love, which the viewers see with reverie.

After nuclear Holocaust human love cannot allow itself to be without the alert human intelligence. In a post-atomic disaster generations, intelligence has to be inseparable from love. It must transcend love as a private experience and enrich love between the two not only by the couple’s awareness of belonging to humanity, but its awareness of our bodily fragility.

The birth of the soul

Physical passion should be able to activate human disinterested thinking as a real protection of love.

Physical love in post-atomic generations can and should be the twin of the soul, like thinking about personal or group survival – the twin of concern for the survival of human species (the one cannot be effective without the other).

Psychological trauma enters through the memory

Love triggers tormenting memories, as if, in order to heal them.

What was supposed to be forever buried in the caves of the past, in those who were traumatized, can unexpectedly come out and claim the stage.

Looking at the dear body of the sleeping beloved has resurrected…

… the memory of the murder of the heroine’s beloved many years ago, during the WWII occupation of France by Germans.

The heroine of the film, who visits Hiroshima and falls in love with a Japanese man, slowly becomes, as if crucified between her present and her past. Her previous feelings interrupted with the death of her lover, tormentingly remind her of their existence. The majority of people today are trying to distract themselves from what has really happened with them, until the next calamity will happen again.

The necessity for amorous psychotherapy

The hero of the film, a Japanese lover of the French woman, feels her strange – exaggerated, a bit psychotic ambiguity. He wants to know more about her, for the sake of her, for the sake of himself.

He, moved by a responsibility in front of his love, tries to enquire about her past. His eroticism is as intelligent as hers. He wants to love even her past, even her hesitations in love.

As a person psychologically confident without being arrogant, he feels in her avoidance an appeal, he feels her love even in what looks like desire to separate from him. His passion is readily sublimated into holistic dedication.

He feels that he must try to help her, that he owes this effort to their love, which continues to give them both a lot of happiness.

Love that (disinterestedly) thinks, not (narcissistically) feels

Influenced by a miraculous alchemy of their love, relationship between the protagonists of the film becomes wider, opens not only to the future and to the past but transcends the very borders of their togetherness, the shell of their privacy.

We see how a unique creative process of the heroes’ love makes it open like a flower to the world’s winds. We see right before our eyes a magnificent transformation of a private affair into love’s mystical unity with the human world. We feel how eroticism of their love trembles with efforts to understand what’s happening in the heroine’s and hero’s lives.

The heroine is shocked and even disturbed by the power of her lover’s concentration on her tormenting past, on what she never spoke of to anybody including her husband with whom she has “happy” children.

Amorous psychotherapy in action

The love relationship (including sexual love) between the main characters is just the beginning of what people can achieve together. It is like the creation of life itself. But to develop human love is the responsibility of human beings. Resnais shows how human intelligence ignited by love becomes equal to the world, a participant in the world’s creation.

In the name of their love, the hero and the heroine go both into the French woman’s past during WW2, the equivalent of Hiroshima tragedy for her Japanese lover, to find and cure the very core of her existential trauma. She starts to represent for their love and for our spectatorship the very traumatized soul of the West that projects into the world its agonizing torment mixed with a deadly frustration incarnated into Western scientific and political culture. It is the psychological trauma of Infant Eros violently repressed by the ideologically dogmatized and punitive pseudo-Agape that can tolerate impersonal sexuality but despising eroticism.

After her lover’s murder and her psychological breakdown is a result, the heroine was put to what is equivalent of a prison cell, where she…

…according to her parents’ plans, will be “freed” from her “perverted” love by the punishing experience of being abandoned by “her country” and “her nation”.

With the help of her lover, the heroine is going through the agony of recollecting/repeating what she felt when she lost her first love.

By giving herself to her grief, by re-experiencing that grief again, the heroine becomes afraid of losing her ties with the present including her Japanese lover. She didn’t discover yet the miracle of “impossible love” – the more you love your past love the more you love your actual love. There is no “competition” in “impossible” love, there is no jealousy.

Encouraged by her lover the French woman goes farther and farther into the intensity of her suffering and into torment of sharing this suffering.

Her love affair with the German soldier was as innocent as the fly of a butterfly (exactly how the composer Giovanni Fusco stylized it in music to the film). In this mini-clip Resnais is not showing that the soldier’s gaze is directed at the heroine approaching him, but makes both of them look at the same direction (at his death).Their mutuality is shown as doomed.

Innocent love is never elementary, even when it is. It always comes with its potential: it is never just itself, it is always more than itself. It is always repetition of mother-child togetherness and has a touch of absolute value. This shot underlines the tragic mutuality of life and death.

It is extension of love into death what makes it the ultimate experience for our consciousness, be it death of a lover or separation from our first love. The end of our love for us is like a nuclear blast is to life.

Love’s death is for the human soul a deadliest trauma. It’s like death of mother.

It is the deadly trauma of human soul as a hidden cultural archetype what later creates rivalry, hate, wars, holocaust and nuclear holocaust. Atomic bomb is a result of a destroyed love in the Western soul, unconscious mass trauma that is incarnated in the very Western culture, in the West’s posture towards the world.

Affirmation of the past love, doomed and sacrificed by human history – its resurrection through the new personal love as psychotherapy, is the affirmation of the future of hero and heroine‘s love (their togetherness in a completely new sense).

Love during the war makes love after the war stronger.

There is no contradiction between two loves; conversely, there is a synergy between them. It is a spiritual lesson of a mature, post-nuclear holocaust love. Overcoming our defensiveness and our fear of losing the love we possess, rewards us with spiritual euphoria, with the feeling of ultimate victory – over ourselves.

Narrative creativity through psychotherapy as art inside life

The birth of a triumphantly impossible love

But what to do with this love that has become as big as time, as large as the whole world?

What to do with this love that is impossible to keep and impossible to leave, that is impossible to cathect because it’s yours and not yours?

What to do with this love that is too mightily human to be part of a private relationship?

The heroine feels this love in both, in her present and in her past, in both, in Hiroshima and in Nevers, the city of her youth and her blasted love. Hiroshima became fused with the small French city in some moments, separated from it in another, and at another times they find a unity again. Resnais cuts the two places together, as one planetary abode of human life, suffering and love.

Is the human soul’s womb too limited to give birth to a new, post-nuclear, post-holocaust love in Hiroshima-the world?

Is personal relationship too personal to transcend itself?

How what is so personal and so private – love between man and woman, can be transformed into love for future generations, life and the world?

Like two animals, like two ghosts the hero and the heroine walk about the night Hiroshima.

Love without appropriation (intercourse between private and public)

Hiroshima mon amour
Is the heroine leaving or staying? Is she leaving to return to her old life that ignores her trauma of love and the possibility of its overcoming, or staying to have it all but possess nothing?

Does the hero see her leaving or staying? Is anti-bomb of daybreak will blast between them for them? Will they meet again and where, in this world or somewhere else?

The door is opened, but the lock is on the level of their faces. The door and the lock are not in her hotel room but are between their souls, in the galaxy of their creative will.

In the final scene between the man and woman a new love has appeared in the world.

Private love becomes love between nations, without strategic calculations, money-worship, globalist wars of appropriation and domination.

To forget the past means to ignore the present. The past we remember is dedicated to the present.

There is no private love without love in the public realm. If there is, then nuclear holocaust will happen again and again.

Personal love is always between Hiroshima and Nevers, between US and Japan, between Germans and Jews, between Jews and Palestinians, if it is not, then there is no love between a man and woman, life and life, between person and person, but only programmed marital and sexual exchange between robots of authoritarian power.


To make the unusual motivations of the characters of this film (which is not only about love but about psychotherapy by love) perceivable to the audience, Resnais uses a number of artistic devices. Here are some of them.

Visual/aural counterpoint (semantic contrast between the visual footage and the aural communication) gives Resnais the possibility to juxtapose the heroine’s voice-over with shots of various geographic locations from the present (Hiroshima post-WW2) and the past (French provincial city “Nevers” during WW2) realities which then became a one reality of the world’s condition that human soul confronts. Because voice-over expresses the heroine’s private experiences, and the visual footage – the public space or “public” reaction on her private experiences, we witness a fatal incompatibility between human being and “fallen” world, the cosmic battle between the rejuvenated (by sublime suffering) human soul and psychologically ossified world in its geographic and historical aspects.

A combination of the hero and the heroine’s relationship with documentary pieces allows Resnais to radiate life with his directorial sensitivity and simultaneously show the world more articulately. The film consisting of heroes’ fight for their love amidst animosity or indifference of the world and their unbearable memories of tortured and destroyed life becomes cinematically psychotherapeutic work with the human race.

Intellectual editing (connecting sequences and shots independently of the plot but following the emotionally saturated meaning articulating human soul’s struggle with its social context) makes the proto-political function of the human feelings the central power in the film. We join the film not only as existentially philosophical art, but as a joint historical, sociological and psychological seminar, providing us not only with knowledge but with the energy for building our understanding.

The internal dialogue, when the main protagonists exchange thoughts which they are not pronouncing, not putting into words: which belong to their unconscious and which Duras and Resnais, as if, steal, in order to put it into the film. The development of intimate rapport between the heroes is depicted as a double process – as a development of communication between their intellects representing their psychological wholeness and including their existential inspirations, and simultaneously as the interaction of their sublime or trivial “irrational” impulses from their deep unconscious. We observe how intimate spiritual unity between their minds, their hearts and their souls crystallize before our perception as a magnificent structure of what it means to be fully human.

The film’s task is to shed light on human intimate love (a love story between a French woman and a Japanese man) through the analysis of its psychological, social and political context including the protagonists’ emotional traumas connected with their previous life. Resnais’ main accent is not on how rivalry, competition, hate, fight for superiority, and war – destroy life, but how they destroy human ability to love (traumatized love continues to destroy life even much later after libidinous trauma took place). The pathos of the film is then how to restore the human ability to love, how to make intimate love a psychotherapeutic experience capable of recovering the gift of love. The external world enters the private relations of the two heroes through their memories, through their internal worlds. When we are young – how the world reacts on our love is so important that it starts to influence and form our soul. Through unification of the internal and external worlds in love Resnais humanizes the space and anthropomorphizes time while showing history as a process of regression or maturation of the human soul that is wounded by and yet capable to resist trauma (in the film – the lessons of war), and geography as the Calvary of the human flesh (the similarity and the difference between France and Japan as the places of war).

The shots of “Hiroshima, mon amour” are, as if, wide opened into the world – as the souls of the two main characters – into the events of the world and the historical currents of the time. This cosmic effect of confrontation of human soul with the reality of life paradoxically creates the impression that in spite of everything the unity between the human soul and the world is possible. Confrontation between love and the world (that usually, in endless films, is mediated by the plot and sticky social situations engulfing the beloveds) makes them, as if belong together in spite of their incompatibility. Resnais’ style excluding the everyday life with its economic-political calculations becomes, as if a creator of a progressive political energies, and reservoir of socio-cultural vitality. Different orders of reality – the internal/psychological one in its most intimate modality, and externally “objective” in its most alienated, indifferent and destructive modality, are stylistically given in the film as though in a physical embrace of their attempt at reciprocal love. By this love-making between human internality and the external world in spite of their antagonism by the very form of the film is Resnais’ aesthetic correction of the 20th century violence, its transformation into its sublime opposite.

If nuclear holocaust is not only the destruction of human bodies, but a radical destruction of human internality (in the same sense that the poisoning of the physical and mental environment including air, water, food and cultural images destroys not only human health and lives but human souls) – of human soul by the externalizing logic, Resnais’ stylistic juxtapositions of human bodies, tortured, lost or artificially gregarious – as if lobotomized by suffering, and blind externality of everyday rituals is purely aesthetic strategy of uniting three aspects of life (human body, human soul and world) into a mutual coexistence with a chance for unity.

Bodily love of the hero and the heroine of the film is shown, as if, having an alchemical power over life and death. Polygamy of atoms, as if, dissolving the two bodies into love, becomes an opposing equivalent of the destruction of bodies through high-tech weapons and, as if, is capable to reverse the past and preclude the future attempts at destroying life and love. The logic of Resnais’ images becomes a miraculous moral transformation of reality on the level of cinematic form.

If nuclear explosion destroys the substance of life (the past of the film’s Japanese protagonist), politico-economic reasons destroys its essence: the very ability to love (the past of the French heroine of the film). There is no place anymore for a naïve love beyond memory, after all the destructions of love that have taken place (and continue to take place) in human history. Love can exist only as a potential sacrifice by the world. As a result of our history only an impossible love is possible (love which includes the memory about the previous deeds against love).

The tormenting and angry memory of a destroyed love or forgetting about it (in order to be able to go on) – both states make it impossible to love again. Intimacy in these circumstances becomes a loving confession in tormenting memories, the loving confession in the destroyed ability to love. The “impossible” love is, first of all, the ability for such a confession inside intimate relations. Impossible love cannot be destroyed because it knows the nuclear power of existential destruction. It is between the impossibility of love and a bereaved love – between a destroyed love and the loving grief that the impossible love tries to pave its way through the lives of the two characters of the film.

According to “Hiroshima, mon amour”, traditional art (before nuclear holocaust) tends to be constructed as a sister of the possible love (the one which is vulnerable to destruction). As possible love tends to isolate itself from historical time, so the traditional art is prone to occupy the place of emptied (by the muffling the intensity of suffering created by psychological trauma) existential memory. As possible love is an attempt of isolation, and becomes a victim of the circumstances the more it ignores them, so the art is marked by blissful, anesthetized memory. As possible love is “deployed” in the wake of forgetfulness/ignorance/desire to silence truths, the traditional/possible art is the echo of forgetting the reality, the very aesthetic pattern of such forgetting. With the help of possible art human being forgets the wounds of memory and facts of reality, and his/her ability for love is the readiness to again become the victim of impersonal powers.

The sister of impossible love – mature, alert, full of humility, free from the connotations of self-assertion – is the impossible art of Alain Resnais in “Hiroshima, mon amour”, combination of art, science, philosophy, empathic suffering and critical feeling about illusionistic nature of “entertainingly realistic” representation of the reality in cinema. Life is shattered by its own reality, and it is not up to art to suture life, as commercial movie-directors so desperately try to do in their project of financial success through movie-making. “Reconstructions were made as authentic as possible, – we hear the voice of the heroine about the fictional representation of nuclear blast and through it Resnais’ thoughts about commercially realistic cinema, – The films were completely authentic. The illusion is so perfect that the tourists weep. What else could a tourist do but weep?” (Jean Douchet, Ibid, p. 131) Everything we see on the screen of Resnais’ ‘Hiroshima…’, on the other side, is irradiated with the realities which are ‘alien’, ‘abstract’ and too painful, and this destroys the innocent desire of the viewers to identify with the small paradise of a “realized” love in the cinematic ‘action’ and ‘feel better’ – feel their being narcissistically confirmed and supported. “‘Hiroshima, mon amour’ is an admirable film… But at no time do we sense the gentle caress of a wing upon our skin” (Jean Douchet, Ibid, p. 131). Of course, we don’t. We are not supposed to. Resnais is not allowing any emotional immediacy between the viewers’ desire to melt and dissolve in a sentimental love on moon-like screen, and the unique organism of a new kind of love between the heroes.

The impossibility for too many people to reach genuine intimacy and their inability to love without a latent aggressiveness and unconscious fight for ontological superiority, are part of a social atmosphere of political extremism, social inequality and fight for success by any price. War in “Hiroshima…” is the ultimate metaphor for the social conditions which have traumatizing influence on people’s ability to love in personal and care about one another in social relations. Social adversariness and war intensifies the need for love and at the same time makes the satisfaction of this need impossible. And this incongruity between need and its frustration creates multiple psychological defenses against love. “This film is sharp and fluid, precise and vague; it pierces the darkness to reveal the dry, melancholy clarity of remembrance beyond the shadows of oblivion. Harmony and counterpoint: the harmony of this woman ravaged by her first love, the harmony of the city ravaged in the fullness of its being: the counterpoint is this concert for several voices around a unique act of devastation, the great silence of Nevers and the lights of Hiroshima. This ruined woman assassinated in her youth, and this ruined city, its teeming life assassinated, are won over by existence, and conquered by forgetfulness. The same desolation, the same power to forget – this film depicts not internal will so much as an irresistible force that pulls us along , and against which we struggle – the same stigmata in the flesh of this city and in the flesh of this woman, the same memory of parting, of rupture. What once was will return, obscurely perhaps, but with points of extreme clarity. What exist no longer belongs to the same skin, but to another being, in another city.” (Pierre Marcabru, 1959, in – Jean Douchet, Ibid, p. 131)

According to the film, it is psychological traumas of love and attachment starting from the childhood – what causes the development of an unconscious hate in people for the human flesh and life and for the flesh of the Earth, which results in genocidal and anti-environmental behavior. The heroine of the film (Emmanuelle Riva) impersonalizes the frustrated condition of Western psyche in relation to the very function of love, and simultaneously, the vital potential for overcoming this trauma. She is one of the first female characters in the world cinema who is liberated from pop-cinematic femininity and a sugary appeal to male’s perception. In her personality humanness and womanhood are indissoluble.

Resnais suggests that only psychologically and historically competent maturity in love (the “impossible love”) is capable to overcome people and culture’s libidinous neurosis with psychotic roots – the first task of love relations is to carry out existential therapy with participants in love. “Today’s world… demands that each individual deconstruct the frame of his or her tradition in dialogue with others deconstructing their traditions. This dialogue is a great aid in this task because others’ perspectives on our tradition free us from assumptions otherwise invisible to us.” (Carl Rascke, Max Myers…, “Deconstruction and Theology”, 1982, p. 141) Without such cultural therapy as concomitant to personal psychotherapy inside intimate relationships (critical analysis of the family, our childhood, referent groups and national customs, norms and traditions) – the potent (impossible: wise and bereaved love is impossible). The impossibility of the impossible love means victory of Thanatos over Eros or monarchy of taste for naïve, narcissistic, sentimental love. The genuine – impossible love in its positive power, according to the film, is a kind of an opposing equivalent to nuclear explosion, it is a mysticism of cosmic creation.

At the very beginning of the film making love is shown as a sacred process. It is like the alchemical history of life repeated in the very psychology of amorous sensations. We see the very transformation of earth into human bodies, of planetary history into human presence, into existence of human mutuality. But it takes a whole film for the heroes’ souls and spirituality to join their physical attraction for each other, to give their love the full measure of creative power. Only then it can be said that nuclear explosion was neutralized – conquered and cured by human love. Developed spirituality appears only when people learn how not to treat the matter violently. Three phases of human and, simultaneously, planetary development that are opposite of the barbarity of nuclear holocaust can be observed in Resnais’ “Hiroshima…” – making love: material creation, creation of human soul: loving, compassionate and empathic mutuality, and achievement of bereaved/impossible love: creation of human spirituality.

Only combination of these three aspects of love can avert the coming of the future historical destruction as a result of political, economic, religious and ethnic rivalries. The impossible love, which the film reveals in its possibility, reminds very little of a “romantic” version of love where two persons symbiotically glue to each other while losing their individual identities and merging into a new symbiotic identity of a regular human couple narcissistically serving their amorous and marital ideal.

By using the word “Hiroshima” as a name of her lover, the heroine completely overcomes the tautology of her identity locked into the narcissistic dynamics of a romantic love based on mutual identification. She steps out into the world of otherness, into another person’s mourning. Being baptized “Hiroshima” the Japanese beloved of the French woman is liberated from being identified with her long dead German lover from WWII. He became not like her German lover, but like him resurrected. Instead of identification with her past lover he identifies with his tormenting story. “The subject painfully identifies himself with some person (or character) who occupies the same position as himself in the amorous structure. [This type of] identification is not a psychological process; it is a pure structural operation: I am the one who has the same place I have… I perceive not analogies but homologies.” (Roland Barthes, “A Lover’s Discourse [Fragments]”, Hill and Wang, 1984, p. 129, 131) This ability to identify homologically, not analogically is an incredibly important step out of our psychological nature impregnated by instinctive rivalry and envy. It is a step away from our proneness for symbiotic identification with the other that is always ambiguous and latently aggressive. Because the heroine’s German and Japanese loves are homologically, not analogically identical, she is free to love again without feeling split and tormentedly guilty. Love for another person becomes love for Hiroshima and for that small town “Nevers” in France (from the point of heroine’s Japanese lover and from the perspective of her own acceptance of her past love as the truth of suffering beyond the need to silence it by forgetting), a curing love for the body of earth, for earth’s earthly and human flesh and soul.

Here lies the unalienable political aspect of personal love. A new love without symbiosis leaves people’s past loves free simultaneously from being forgotten and from being the object of fetishistic fixation. The more sacred is the actual love the more sacred are the past loves. If regular love transforms three into two {“… each of the protagonists, he and she, marry, through the other, his or her mother… hatred is the keynote in the couple’s passionate melody… The child, male or female, hallucinates its merging with a nourishing-mother-and-ideal-father… That child, the loving child, in its couple mania, tries to make two where there were three.” (Julia Kristeva, “Tales of Love”, Columbia Univ. Pr, 1987, p. 223 – 222)}, bereaved love always transforms two into three. An impossible love doesn’t contradict to nor compete with traditional love – destroyed amorous experiences. This love, conversely, is perceived as their redemptive reincarnation.

The kind of love the heroine of the film was involved in her youth is genuine but a narcissistic love all children and young people are involved in. They have the right. They are too young to know different, less self-centered kind of relationships. And it’s trauma of this love what creates surplus aggression and hate reflected later in negative politics and, eventually, in wars. It is hateful treatment of immature love what creates even more hate. Only mature love is capable of healing the wounds as a result of the destruction of immature love. A normal, ideal way for immature love to be transformed into a more sublime one could be through gradual development based on gentle influence of positively pedagogical environment. But until it doesn’t exist (until human life is barbarically rude and violent), only miracle – only tremendous creative efforts of special people like the heroes of Resnais’ film and like the director himself, can help us to achieve this spiritual transformation. Resnais’ film is about this precious therapeutic psychological resource that human culture still has – the artistic knowledge about the courage and the ability to create a breakthrough in our experience of love towards the love in a new, less defensive, more open and maturely nurturing way.

Thrown into the social world, the exceptional love of the heroes is depicted as incompatible with the logic of factual life. At first, the impossible love (where grief is accepted and worked out) is shown as contradistinctive to Hiroshima museum kind of compassion registered in the documentary clip inside the film, then as a quite alien to the spirit of a documentary about the atomic blast, and thirdly, as incompatible with the world of restaurants, hotels, streets and anonymous interiors in Hiroshima. Impossible love doesn’t have an environment other than Resnais’ film with aesthetics and semiotics of the “intellectual” cinematic art. Only here it can dwell, accumulate itself, become a cultural presence, become noticed and accepted. This love is not yet fully incarnated into culture and into human life. It belongs to the future that may never come.

The role of extraordinarily ordinary (“romantic”) love (not necessary in its self-expression but in its essence) is examined by Resnais in his “Last year in Marienbad’ (1961), the existential consequences of romantic love’s inevitable failure on personal and cultural levels (like failure of utopian social idealism) – in his “Muriel” (1963), romantic love’s glitter parasitizing on human life as an excessive embellishments on human bodies in tribal cultures – in “Stavisky” (1968), its sublimatory, yet, predatory mechanism – in “Mon Oncle d’Amerique” (1980), and its quasi-religious cult that creates in its worshippers self-sacrificial “happiness” – in “Love Onto Death” (1984).

Posted on March 8 2013 –   “Hiroshima mon amour” (1957) By Alain Resnais  by Acting-Out Politics