The World of Wong Kar Wai・映画監督ウォン・カーウァイの世界

 
(ABOVE) A video summarising the charms of Wong Kar Wai, by youtube channel ‘Pitching Room’
(上)監督ウォン・カーウァイの映画の魅力を描写する動画

When I started my first ever internship, my mentor taught me 2 directors whose movies I must watch. One of which was Hong Kong director, Wong Kar Wai, a name synonymous with Asian cinema. His movies are not always crowd favourites, many find it boring, with overly long b-rolls and overly poetic lines. I’ve even heard of a guy who exited the cinema half-way for the first time in his life, while watching Wong’s film. Truly, if you go into the cinema expecting to be excited at the back of your seat, you might be disappointed. His films are more suitable for when you are feeling sentimental, when you are ready to lose yourself in the music.

私は両親に「ウォン・カーウァイ」という監督について感想を聞いたところ、あまり良い評価は得られませんでした。うちの親父の話によると、彼の映画を見た時生まれて初めて映画途中で映画館を出たそうです。

多くの皆はそう思うのはよく分かります。何も説明のない風景のシーンが長いし、詩のようなセリフも多いです。確かにつまらなくてストーリーが進められないと感じします。

Despite the criticisms, he has reached legend status. He is capable of creating an atmosphere in his film that is very Hong Kong and very hard to find anywhere else in the world. The chaotic neon lights. The lonely, slightly dirty and rusty city vibe. The nostalgia of downtown Hong Kong. You cannot categorise these feelings easily, you have to see the films for yourself. I would like to introduce 3 of his movies and an interesting composition or camera technique applied in each.

一方、ウォン監督の映画奇妙な魅力があると いう意見もあります。 夜の街並みのネオン・ライツの中で、少し汚くて錆びている雰囲気しんとが現れ、如何にも香港の下町らしいシーンが良くあります。観客に一種のノスタルジーを与えます。

彼の三つの映画を紹介したいと思います。

 

 
 
 
 
 

(TOP) Iconic scenes from ‘In the Mood for love’, especially those that are well framed
(上) 映画「花様年華」の中の代表的なシーン、特に窓やドアみたいな枠が入られているシーン

★★★★★

The first film has to be Wong’s signature work–‘In the Mood for love(2001)’ It went on to be chosen 2nd place in BBC’s Top 100 best films of the 21st Century. The movie is set in 1960s Hong Kong–a time where men had gelled hair, worn suits and women adorned the cheongsam, dressing up even for short trips to the market. It makes me imagine how my own grandfather looked when he was young, especially since he alway dressed neatly with gelled hair even at an old age. It’s the many little things that give the film its refined vibe, be it suited Tony Leung, walking out of the shadows with a newspaper tucked under his armpit or the cigar smoke filling the air slowly.

A notable film technique Wong used in much of this film is a「frame within a frame」. Many scenes have their main action framed within another frame, such as a door or a window, within the screen itself. This reflects Wong’s obsession with the composition in every frame.

まず、ウォン監督の第一の代表作は「花様年華(2001)」です。

「BBC 21世紀映画ベスト100リスト」の中に、第2位で獲得されていた作品です。1960年代の香港の背景として、男性はスーツばかりを着て、女性はチイパオばかりを着ていた時代でした。脇下で新聞を挟んで影から歩き出すトニー・レオンの姿が格好いいと思われたからです。

映画の画面にだいたい 窓やドアみたいな枠が入られていました。これらのことからウォン監督は構図に関する自分なりのこだわりがあるのをよくわかります。

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(ABOVE) Iconic Scene from movie ‘In the Mood for love’ that I mentioned in the post, men that wear suits and women who wear cheongsam
(上)映画「花様年華」の中に1960年代香港男のスーツ姿や女のチイパ姿を反映するシーン

 

 
 
 
 
 

(1) Erratic and Sketchy scenes that use the [step printing] method
「Step Printing」というカメラ手法通して突飛な速さで動いているシーン
(2) The iconic pineapple scene
代表的な水槽の隣にパイナップルを食べているシーン
(3) Other Iconic scenes
ほかの代表的なシーン

★★★★★

If ‘In the mood for love’ is composed, slow-paced and refined, then the following movie I am going to describe is probably the opposite–it is also one of Wong’s most iconic film, ‘Chung King Express (1994)’. A young actor at that time, Takeshi Kaneshiro took on the role of a policeman suffering from a breakup heartbreak. For a month after breaking up his girlfriend, he collected his ex’s favorite canned pineapple everyday, specifically ones that expire at the end of the month. He then ate all of it at one go, as if letting all of his feelings go. The scene of him musing and feasting on the pineapple beside the fish tank in his lonely apartment is especially sentimental.

Many movies use slow motion or fast motion to dramatize moments, but Wong decided to do both at the same time. He used a camera technique known as 「Step Printing」, he films action scenes in a slow frame rate and then replays it in a faster speed to create an erratic atmosphere that is sketchy with a lot of motion blurs.

第二、「恋する惑星(1994)」という作品も有名です 。

当時若手俳優の武金城さんは失恋したばかりの警察官を演じていました。別れてからの一ヶ月間に、この警察官は元彼女の好きなパイナップル缶詰を毎日一つずつ集めました。そして、最後の日に一気に食べてしまいました。まるで自分の気持ちを切るような感じでしました。彼が水槽の隣にパイナップルを食べている姿は特に印象的でした。

また、ウォン監督はこの映画の中で「Step Printing」というカメラ手法を使いました 。例えば、走っているような速いシーンをスローモーションで再生しました。それなので「荒れ放題」みたいな雰囲気がよく現れました 。

 
 

 
(ABOVE) A song from the Movie OST and certain clips from the movie, ChungKing Express
(上)映画の中の音楽と幾つかのシーンで編集された短い動画

 
 

“毎日大勢とすれ違う。その誰かともしかして親友にだから僕はすれ違いを避けないケガするときもあるけど楽しければいい。”
—金城 武, 天使の涙(1995)
“We rub shoulders with many people everyday. Some may become your close friend, or even your confidant. That’s why I’ll never avoid such possibilities, sometimes it hurts. Not to worry–as long as you’re happy.”
– Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fallen Angels(1995)
“每天,你都会和许多人擦肩而过,他们可能会成为你的朋友或是知己。所以我从来没有放弃和任何人摩擦的机会。有时候搞得自己头破血流,管他呢!开心就行了”
–金城武,堕落天使(1995)
 

 
 
 
 
 

 

(TOP) Iconic scenes from the movie Fallen Angels, especially ones that show the visual effect from wide lens closeup, that bends and warps the image from the movie.
(上) ワイドレンズでクローズアップしたから、スクリーンを曲がれて、画面上の距離を拡大するシーン

★★★★★

Lastly, ‘Fallen Angels(1995)‘, is the least known of the 3, but by far my favourite Wong Kar Wai Film. It starts as a story about an assassin and his agent but it’s ultimately about fate and coincidence–rubbing shoulders with people who walk in and out of your life.

When filming a landscape, cinematographers would usually use wide lens, as it captures a large area. However, they would not use it for closeups as it tends to warp nearby objects, your face would be distorted to look like a banana in front of it. In this film Wong use this 「Wide lens close-up」to achieve a look that makes 2 people sitting close together by a table to look visually distant from each other on the screen, bending the screen image in an exaggerated manner.

最後に「天使の涙(1995)」という映画も特別です。

殺し屋やエージェントなどの役目について映画です。

この映画の中で、ウォン監督は普通のクローズアップレンズの代わりにワイドレンズを使って、クローズアップを撮影しました。そうすると、役者たちの顔はバナナのように曲がれます。この手法を通して、 スケールを拡大することができます。そうすると、実際に近く座っている役者たちはスクリーンに長い距離があるように見えます。

 

 
 
 
 

 
(ABOVE) SPOILER ALERT! The ending from the movie Fallen Angels
(上)ネタバレ!映画「天使の涙」の終わり

There is so much more I can say about Wong Kar Wai, perhaps for another time. He is an irreplaceable figure and marked an era in Hong Kong film history.

ウォン監督は いつも斬新的なテクニックで香港ならでの雰囲気をしみじみと表現します。彼がつい香港映画の一時代を築きました。

 
 

 
 


DISCLAIMER☞The writing and content have seem odd during the attempt to draw a parallel between my limited Japanese ability and English expressions. This is for my practice, let me know areas of improvements thanks. Special thanks to my Japanese teacher, Chris.