Filed under: Books, Films | Tags: books, disaster, duras, french, hiroshima, plays
I just finished reading the screenplay Hiroshima mon amour. The French is quite pretty in its simplicity. With short clips of dialogue such as:
Lui: Tu n’as rien vu a Hiroshima. Rien.
Elle: J’ai tout vu. Tout… Ainsi l’hôpital je l’ai vu. J’en suis sure. L’hopital existe a Hiroshima. Comment aurais-je pu eviter de le voir?
Lui: Tu n’as pas vu d’hôpital a Hiroshima. Tu n’as rien vu a Hiroshima…
Elle: Je n’ai rien inventé.
Lui: Tu as tout inventé.
I haven not yet seen the movie, though I was shown the first three minutes or so in Jason Stevens’ Faulkner class. He wanted us to see the use of montage and disordered scenes, suggesting the large influence Faulkner had on Japanese authors and screenwriters. He argued that many Japanese people related Japan’s history to that of the rise and fall of the Old and New South. I do not know enough about Japanese history to write any more on this comparison. However, Faulkner’s celebrity in Japan is undeniable. In Houghton Library our class was able to look at the transcript and photos of one of Faulkner’s visit to a Japanese university. Indeed, his reception there was much warmer and more immediate than here in the states.
but the book. it ends: She says to him, “Hi-ro-shi-ma. C’est ton nom.” and he calls her “Ne-vers-en-Fran-ce.” What is the significance of these appellations? Does Duras suggest that for these two characters their identity is almost completely a result of where they are from? Are these locations, where they were both tremendously scarred, all that they amount to, boil down to, as people? “vers” can mean “towards” in French. Is there a play on words, un jeu de mots, going on here– the Japanese man saying “not towards France?” something like that? Maybe not. but Ne-vers is a great name for a city as the man says at least once in the script. And what a happy correspondence in English: nevers. multiple never. more than one never? what is the plural of an ultimatum like that? It somehow does not have the happy ring of “Never Never Land.”
The land of Never, where she (she who is never named in the film, but through the screen play we come to learn is called Riva) was trapped in a cave, shorn like a sheep with bloody fingers from their attempts to climb the walls. she is left in the cave because she has shamed her family, for sleeping with the German enemy.
Nevers. c’est superbe comme mot. je l’aime bien.
My next task, watch this movie in full. From the snippet I’ve seen it’s beautiful. I would love to know anyone’s thoughts on the screenplay or film if you’ve encountered them. I’d wanted to read it for a long time. Now I will never say that I never read it. voila– some nevers.
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