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A Study on the Ethics of Reproduction in Alain Resnais’s Film―Focusing on <Night and Fog>, <Hiroshima, Mon Amour>, and <Muriel, ou Le temps d’un retour>

Choi Eun Jung 1

1한양대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on Alain Resnais’s representative works <Night and Fog> (1955), <Hiroshima, Mon Amour> (1959), and <Muriel, ou Le temps d’un retour> (1963), and analyzes how he implements a representation of memory though cinematic apparatus. These three films deal with horrific memories that seem impossible to reproduce aesthetically such as the Holocaust, the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb, World War II, and the war in Algeria. The reappearance of events that stripped humans of even their minimum dignity can naturally be associated with ethical issues. These events can never be reproduced because they cannot be explained in the human language. It is also impossible to reproduce in a way that doesn’t invade other peoples’ sufferings, nor displays the pain of others as spectacles. Alain Resnais was a director who realized that if factual representation was not possible from the beginning, truthfulness would have to be approached through cinematic form. Therefore, he tries to overcome these problems through cinematic forms. First, he shifts to action films to avoid the obscenity of documentary. <Night and Fog> shows the records of camps captured by German forces in the past, while <Hiroshima, Mon Amour> shows the pain of others in a fictional form of representation. Next, he describes how the trauma affects the identity of the main character through a flashback in <Hiroshima, Mon Amour>, but also shows a main character who is experiencing trauma without a flashback in <Muriel, ou Le temps d’un retour> Flashbacks have the effect of showing the effects of trauma on the main character, but at the same time they involve the obscenity of enjoying the suffering of others. Nonetheless, the absence of flashbacks highlights the impossibility of representation. This is because it is not silent in the impossibility of representation but is constantly approaching. The attitude that repeatedly circles around impossibility is an ethical form that maximizes the impossibility of representation. In conclusion, this is the ethics of representation that Alain Resnais showed in his films.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.