It’s Saturday night and we are on our way to the TIFF Bell Lightbox. We love seeing movies there – the theatres are all beautifully designed and apart from the Festival in September it’s usually so sparsely attended that it feels like our private club. We arrive at 4:30 for a 4:45 screening of an old French movie, and the line-up is out the door and half a block down the sidewalk. My god, Toronto really is a film town. We’ll never get in.
Turns out the line-up is for a James Bond exhibit in the gallery. They are all here to see vintage custom sports cars and 1960’s bathing suits worn by busty European actresses. That line fills the lobby, snaking back and forth in a roped off maze like at an airport, with attendants shouting over the babble to announce the next available timed entry three hours hence. In the movie ticket line there’s only one person in front of us, also here for Hiroshima, Mon Amour.
We are warned by first the ticket seller and then both ticket takers that this is a food-free screening. Why? “Cinemateque members don’t like to hear people eating while they are watching the movie.” Yes, three warnings. And yet, as we walk up the ramp to the theatre a stern grey couple approach for sotto voce conversation with a theatre employee who then returns with them to the theatre and emerges almost immediately with a large bag of popcorn held aloft in his hands as if it is toxic waste.
We, too, are serious about movies. And I know, sometimes I miss a line of dialogue when the M&M candy coating crunches explosively between my teeth. I would have thought the thick sweet peanut butter center would mute the crunch, but judging by the sidelong glance of my thick sweet man beside me, it’s as loud as it seems. Still, this removal seems a little… whatever.
Cinemateque is currently screening a series of old movies in conjunction with recently released Amour, starring its two eighty-something actors in career retrospectives. The series provides a context and history for a contemporary film – just what a theatre should be doing and we are grateful that they are.
We are certain that we saw this movie in university at some film society screening, and expect it to come back to us as soon as we see it. The lights dim in this silent theatre and we are immersed in a sensual scene of hands caressing naked skin while a voice-over male/female dialogue questions and contradicts. We both remember this imagery vividly, but remember nothing after this first few minutes. What could the story have meant to us then?
Hiroshima, Mon Amour is a love story concerned with war, memory, responsibility and the atom bomb. Made in 1959, close enough to WWII to still be viscerally felt, whereas now we are inured to the terror of the bomb. Cinematically innovative, evocative, heartrendingly beautiful and disturbing, we leave quiet and with so much to talk about. We pass the still snaking James Bond line and cross the street to a French bistro, order steak frites and continue our conversation.
Hiroshima, Mon Amour original trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjGdLZNAdRc
– Schuster Gindin
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