Classy, Tragic Love: Romance in the French New Wave February 4, 2015

Simply calling Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour a love story doesn’t do it justice.

The 1959 film about a torrid, tortured romance between a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) in post-nuclear Hiroshima was a major catalyst for the French New Wave, a film movement that featured innovative miniature flashbacks and provocative analysis of the connection between memory and authentic experience in the wake of World War II.

If you’re looking for the sentimentality of mainstream romance films, the New Wave probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a date-night movie. But if you’re okay with the idea that love doesn’t always end well, come to the Museum on Valentine’s Day weekend to see a glisteningly restored Hiroshima mon amour. The film screens on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 13, 14, and 15.

For Your Consideration

You might also like to try these New Wave romances:

• Breathless (1960) | Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Who's cooler: icy French criminal Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) or his young American girlfriend Patricia (Jean Seberg)? Let’s call it a tie, with both getting bonus cool points from Godard’s bold, stylish cinematography.

 Jules and Jim (1962) | Directed by François Truffaut
If you missed it during the Museum’s recent Truffaut retrospective, put this classic love triangle first on your list. The endlessly intriguing Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) learns that loving two men takes more than just laughing while running across bridges.

 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) | Directed by Jacques Demy
Okay, probably not New Wave in the strictest sense, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more delightful film than this Technicolor operetta about the wartime separation of two overly romantic young lovers (Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo).

 A Man and a Woman (1966) | Directed by Claude Lelouch
A chance meeting between a widower (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who's a professional race-car driver and a widow (Anouk Aimée) turns into something deeper, even as trust issues linger. What will happen if he drives all night to reach her?

 My Night at Maud’s (1969) | Directed by Éric Rohmer
Believe in love at first sight? In this film for the intellectual and romantic alike, Catholic engineer Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) spends an enchanting night talking about love and religion with Maud (Françoise Fabian), a charming divorcée.

MFAH Films

To keep up with all the latest from MFAH Films, visit the online calendar, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.