Friday, October 3, 2014

Chungking Express

Wong Kar Wai made Chungking Express in two months while on a break from editing a different film. As part of the Hong Kong new wave movement, Wong Kar Wai's films have a unique energy and a distinct style. This energy is palpable in Chunking Express, shot almost handheld and on location in Hong Kong. 

The film consists of two separate stories of loneliness and love in Hong Kong. Through bright neon lighting and always moving camerawork, the viewer is involved in the bustling night life of Hong Kong. Christopher Doyle, the cinematographer, often collaborated with Wong Kar Wai. In this film they put visual style over story. Every shot is composed in a color palette of reds, greens, blues and yellows. 

The camerawork mimics the story, jumping around and blurring things together. It infuses the film with a restlessness, and energy which can be hard to capture in film. The fact that this film was produced cheaply and quickly helps contribute to the energy and spirt  of the film. It breaks down traditional hollywood styles and goes for mood and feeling over straightforward storytelling. 

Its characters have depth and live and breathe in this imaginary world. As viewers we become attached to each character and are deeply involved in their story, although it might not be clear exactly what their story is. This is because Wong Kar Wai is able to make us emotionally involved, not just involved in the progression of the story. He makes us sympathize with the characters in a way that not many filmmakers can. His characters are also unique. They are not one dimensional archetypes we see in every film, but rather complex compelling, and mostly bizzarre characters. This adds greater interest because you cannot easily predict what they are going to do or where their story will bring them. For example Faye Wong (a Hong Kong pop star in real life) plays the character Faye. She does not communicate very much yet we have a strong sense of her personality from the moment we are introduced to her in this clip: 

These elements come together to create Chunking Express, which is entirely its own film. A completely unique and compelling example of Hong Kong New Wave at its finest.  

No comments: