“I never want to take only beautiful pictures. I want to make sure each one is taken correctly. Every scene, every shot is a choice: what you want to see and what you don’t.” These words of Wong Kar Wai perfectly describe his workshop. A dreamer, a visionary and a professional. Each of his films, contains a piece of his personality. What is the director’s phenomenon? His works of cinematography have a multitude of fans around the world, who still enjoy watching them today and return to them years later.

Table of Contents:

  1. A love of beauty
  1. Thirsty for triumph
  1. Debut: film art
  1. Anxiety, pain longing-heroes
  1. In the glow of neon lights
  1. Hong Kong as a backdrop
  1. The beauty of relationships
  1. Contemporary Asian cinema
  1. The essence of Chinese aesthetics
  1. Doomed to success

A love of beauty

Wong Kar Wai says of himself that he is an aesthete. His first exposure to filmmaking was while he was studying graphic design. Ever since he was a child, he has loved beautiful objects and treasured works of art, as he knew from an early age that it was due to hard work. His fascination with cinema influenced his decision to study another course-that’s how he became a student at the Hong Kong film academy.

Thirsty for triumph

Although the young director’s goal from the beginning was cinema, during his studies he built his portfolio as an assistant producer for programs and series on television. After his internship, he decided to start his own career as an independent screenwriter. Thus, Wong Kar Wai wrote about ten scripts in five years and decided to make his first film.

Nationwide network focusing on cultural and business promotion of Japan (1920×200 px)

Debut: film art

The first film created by Wong Kar Wai was “When Tears Pass Away.” It is an unusual, melancholy story about the black corners of Hong Kong and its people. Gangs, black business, but also the great need and pursuit of love – this is what the drama is about. The action takes place in an atmosphere of neon lights and the hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps.

Anxiety, pain longing-heroes

Many movie lovers believe that the creation of the characters is a key element in Wong’s international success. Each of the characters, is absolutely unique- yet they share certain characteristics, such as constant anxiety, pain, longing, and desire. The authenticity of the characters is a manifestation of the incredible talent of the director, who is able to portray human feelings in an original way. His goal is not to idealize reality-he wants to show the truth about the world, about ourselves. Brutal realism is a wonderful feature of his films. It is not portrayed in a negative way-it shows the beauty in the passing of time and our daily life, which, despite its many flaws, failures and worries, is still unique.

In the glow of neon lights

“Every day we pass so many different people. People we will never meet, but also people with whom we will enter into a close relationship.”

These words are the introduction to the film “Chunking Express” – it was the film that influenced the expansion of the popularity of Wong Kar Wai’s works and silhouette. Evening, rainy, nostalgic Hong Kong. Two parallel stories of unhappy love. A story about passing each other by, and how people we accidentally meet on the street can affect our lives. The climate of neon lights, a bustling city to the rhythm of “California Dreaming” was portrayed in an extraordinary way, and the film became a benchmark of 1990s aesthetics. Wong’s repertoire features a full range of elements of Asian culture-it is undoubtedly a timeless cinema in which every viewer will find something for himself.

Director Wong Kar Wai
Director Wong Kar Wai

Hong Kong as a backdrop

During an interview, Wong admitted how important a role his beloved city of Hong Kong plays in his films. It provides a backdrop to the events and experiences of the characters.

Excerpt from an interview about the film “Thirsty for Love” : “This is a film about the end of a time. 1966 is a turning point in Hong Kong’s history. The Cultural Revolution on the mainland had many unpleasant consequences and forced Hong Kong residents to think about the future. Many of them came from China in the late 1940s, had more than 20 years of relative peace, built their lives anew – and suddenly felt they had to change everything. 1966 marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.”

The beauty of relationships

The reason why the films of the Chinese director, are so captivating, is undoubtedly the way the relationships are presented. The director has a gift for portraying love as a delicate emotion that is often ephemeral. A perfect example of a film in which a couple in love was portrayed in such a way is “Thirsty for Love.” The feeling between the main characters is purely platonic-that’s what makes their bond so special and rises above physicality.

Contemporary Asian cinema

Wong Kar-Wai is a director who popularized not only Chinese cinema, but also Asian cinema. Today, he is an icon who inspires young artists who want to become popular around the world. What does contemporary Asian cinema look like these days? Well, in recent years we have observed that more and more often the winners of awards at film festivals are filmmakers from Asia. From the Korean film “Parasite,” which won a number of Academy Awards, to “Minari,” which depicts the fate of a family in exile, to “Drive my car,” based on a book by one of Japan’s most prominent writers, Haruki Murakami. Film lovers all over the world are watching the success of Far Eastern filmmakers-not only on the big screens, but also on streaming services-as evidenced, for example, by the following. The global phenomenon of “Squid Game,” which has broken viewing records.

The essence of Chinese aesthetics

The details in Wong’s videos are extremely important. Everything has to be polished to the last button- scenery, makeup, music, lights. All these factors must form a common whole that reflects the spirit of Chinese aesthetics.

“I think Wong Kar Wai’s films have touched me to an unearthly degree. In other words, he touched us, the viewers, on a subconscious level. How to put it? I think he captivated us with the most romantic, beautiful and mystical mood. Ambiguity stimulates so many feelings and imaginations. The characters speak to each other-it’s so personal, but at the same time universal. Nights in Hong Kong, the drifting, dynamic 1960s creeps into my collective consciousness.” – Filmmaker Ang Lee in response to a question about what Wong Kar Wai’s films mean to him

Doomed to success

Wong’s films are unique-as evidenced by the fact that almost every one of them received cult status immediately after its release. A director with such a grand vision, approaching each work with great attention to detail and adhering to the framework of his defined aesthetics, was simply destined to succeed. Fans around the world are finding the main characters in each other, experiencing each of the actions, and, simply enjoying watching. Great atmosphere, outstandingly rendered emotions and the spirit of China-this guides the films of the one-of-a-kind, visionary filmmaker Wong Kar Wai.

You can read more about the secrets of cinema in the article: Women of cinema are coming out of the shadows. Oscars 2016

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