Camera Dynamics in Chungking Express (1994)

by Gabriela Horwath, Wyn Veiga, Tomas Pacheco, Mimi Taylor, Joon Choi

Focus Blur – Gabriela: 

Specifically analyzing the first that appears blurry to the audience, the use of pan, tilt, and zoom creates a fast paced shot that allows the film to achieve a dramaticized appearance of the characters in action. In one of the first shots of the film where He Qiwu is chasing an assailant, the image produced by the movements of the camera are shown as blurry. When He Qiwu is first walking through a crowd, the skillful panning tracks him and shows the crowd around him passing by; this further highlights that it is a busy shot. In addition, pan is used as the camera moves alongside He Qiwu while he is running. This effect puts an emphasis on how fast he is running as well as the distance he is traveling.

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The Expiration of Time and Love: Analyzing Speed of Motion in Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express

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by Meagan Johnson, Emily Nagler, Dylan Kanaan, Joalda Morancy, and Haina Lu

California Dreamin’-The Mama’s and the Papa’s (to supplement your reading)

The context in which Wong Kar-Wai actually made Chungking Express is interesting to note as it relates to the techniques he uses to alter speed of motion in the film. According to Quentin Tarantino, Wong Kar-Wai was actually working on a different/epic movie, he had been editing for multiple years but had felt stalled in the process. Just as a writer needs to take breaks at times to look at their work with an objective lense, he felt he needed to step away for a bit, and decided to use the time to put out a quickly produced / quick hitting film, which would become Chungking Express. The context in which he made the film – moving from editing a film that was long, slower paced in time, to producing a film that was quick paced in time, and then returning back to the slower paced one – is in various ways actually reflected in his treatment of time in Chungking Express. As the remainder of this post will discuss in different ways, Wong Kar-Wai manipulates time through film techniques that alter the speed of motion. This manipulation of time is not meaningless however, the ways in which he does so is to reflect how time moves differently for different characters/situations, connecting us closer to their stories– instilling empathy in many respects. While Hong Kong films, at least at the time, were known for their fast paced approach, Wong Kar-Wai created a film in Chungking Express that is both fast and slow. And perhaps, his approach and reason to this was in-part to reflect how he perceives time as moving at different speeds within his own career.

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Silhouettes, Shadows, & Smoke: Lighting in In the Mood for Love

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Sherlock Ziauddin

Wong Kar-wei’s In the Mood For Love depicts the story of a man (Chow) and a woman (Su) who, both suspecting that their spouses are involved in extramarital affairs, become close companions to each other in their loneliness. As the story progresses, however, their platonic friendship spills over and they begin to fall in love.

Their story unfolds in carefully controlled sequences that are almost dreamlike in nature as, together, they fabricate a fantasy world for themselves in which they pretend to be in love as their spouses are – and then continue, even when the façade of romantic affection becomes a reality. One of the most obvious visual cues in the mise-en-scène that indicate the portrayal of these moments is in the lighting. In all of these sequences, the lighting is more dramatic: it is low-key, sharp, and almost always artificial, as these scenes overwhelmingly take place under cover of night. This type of lighting is fundamental in setting the mood in these sequences; the subtle expression of emotion and the tension of physical bodies is highlighted, literally, by its use.

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