Other films by Wong Kar Wai

The readings for this week emphasize Wong Kar Wai as a writer-director whose films embody a clear set of themes - time, memory, love, loss - and m-e-s - the initmate public spaces of Hong Kong. There are a number of Wong Kar Wai films available streaming on Netflix, including Days of Being Wild, which Stephen Teo identifies as the first in a loose trilogy of movies that ends with 2046. The other film in that series, In the Mood for Love, can be checked out from the library.

First thematic essay: supplemental images

One of the requirements of the first essay is to include a close reading of one of the 5/45/85 frame grabs from the initial set of films or of an alternative, which you can select yourself or may be suggested by me. I have chosen the following images from The Fifth Element and 2046:

From The Fifth Element:


(at 38:36).

From 2046:


(at 8:09).


(at 78:53).

Preview for 2046 (2004)

While watching 2046, focus broadly on the mise-en-scene (m-e-s) and how the filmmakers use elements of the m-e-s to construct their vision of the future.

  • What elements of the m-e-s would you point to as being "futuristic"? If so, what are they? Where in the film do you notice these elements?
  • Can you find recurring elements? Particular uses of light, or arrangements of people or objects, for example?
  • Are there individual shots or scenes that seem to distill or concentrate how the future looks in the film? What are the primary elements of the m-e-s that signify the filmmakers' ideas?
  • Are there aspects of the m-e-s that seem more like design details than ones that are material within the narrative? On the other side, are there aspects that seem crucial to the narrative?
  • What does 2046 borrow from Metropolis? What does the film have in common, visually, with the other films we have screened in this section of the course?
  • How do the filmmakers use m-e-s to distinguish the present (1960s Hong Kong) from the future?