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It was to tell the fictional story of two love affairs, one current and one remembered, with Hiroshima as a backdrop – a metaphor, essentially, for one's inability to forget the wounds of history.Resnais's artistry is such that you could never dispute his tact – the scars and ghosts of the massacre haunt the movie and speak to us across time.

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", she asks her new–found lover, the architect played by Eiji Okada.

Resnais's film is itself a bold answer to that question, for it is not really about peace, and certainly not inner peace.

It's about disquiet, memory, circularity and a sickness of the heart.

For the time being, 85–year–old Emmanuelle Riva's remarkable acting in Michael Haneke's Amour caps a richly enigmatic film career that goes back more than half a century.

Many of her most acclaimed performances, for directors with the cachet of Georges Franju or Gillo Pontecorvo, need a fair bit of disinterring on obscure DVD labels.

One, though – her star–making turn in Alain Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour – will always be a touchstone.

Amour is nearly a homophone in French for à mort (unto death), a resonance to which both Haneke and Resnais are alert.

But the real kinship between the movies is Riva herself, an actress who not only silently bares her soul, but lures us into a mysterious halfway house – not quite the conscious present, but a large, echoing purgatory between past and future.

Resnais was invited to Japan to make a documentary about the atomic bomb, with the architectural and human wreckage of Hiroshima as his starting point.

The idea would have been a direct follow–up to Night and Fog (1955), his famous photographic study of concentration camps in Poland, but the director resisted repeating himself.

After a series of failed drafts, he settled on a collaboration with Marguerite Duras, and the film swung in a very different direction.

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