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Love and catastrophe: filming the sublime in Hiroshima mon amour

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This essay studies two scenes from Alain Resnais's film Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais, 1959) alongside the concept of the sublime in order to take film from a discussion of desire to one of love. Love is understood according to philosopher Emmanuel Levinas's description, as an infinite alterity, rather than as totality or unity. Though Levinas insists on a separation between love and tragedy, and argues that the work of art cannot achieve the ethical, I argue that Resnais's film expresses a sublime achievement by staging, or representing, the infinite tragically through failure and betrayal.

Keywords: Alain Resnais; Emmanuel Levinas; Hiroshima mon amour; narrative film theory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/sfci.3.3.173/1

Affiliations: Yale University

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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  • Studies in French Cinema is the only journal published in English devoted exclusively to French cinema, providing scholars, teachers and students from around the world with a consistent quality of academic investigation across the full breadth of the subject. Contributors scrutinise the cultural context of various works and the diverse stylistic approaches that infuse the visual fabric of this genre.
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