51 Wong Kar Wai – 王家衛 (Wángjiāwèi)

Sana Rajendran

simplified Chinese: 王家卫; pinyin: Wángjiāwèi

Wong Kar-Wai

Wong Kar-Wai, known in Mandarin Chinese as 王家卫 (Wángjiāwèi), is an extremely influential director from Hong Kong. His films typically center Chinese people, and he uses complex narratives and storytelling to depict love, tragedy, and loss. Wong is multi talented in the film industry, and he is credited in a number of his films as not only the director, but the writer, cinematographer, and producer. However, what he is most famous for is his cinematography and directing.

His most notable films include In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and Happy Together. All of these movies show unconventional characters and narratives, as Wong goes to great lengths to show different types of lifestyles. As a Chinese director operating in the 90s and early 2000s, his decision to make a film featuring queer leads was incredibly bold. He is also known for not concluding his films with a satisfying ending — in other words, there are few happy endings in his movies. For example, In the Mood for Love follows two main characters, a man and a woman, both of whom are being cheated on by their spouse. Once the two realize that their respective spouses are actually having an affair with each other, they begin to bond over their shared grieving of their marriage. As a new relationship blooms in the shadow of another, the two go through a wide range of emotions. They wonder if they are falling in love, or if they are in love with the idea of each other, or worse yet, if they are only pretending to love to feel what their spouses felt. This type of exploration of the complexities of love is so specific to Wong’s screenwriting style, and he uses his skills to ask the audience to self-reflect.

A lot of Wong Kar Wai’s cinematic shots are selected for in-depth analysis due to the intricacy of their composition, lighting, framing, etc. For example, Chungking Express is particularly lauded by film critics for its use of shaky shots to communicate the feeling of uncertainty that the main characters have. Throughout the film, there are flashes of unclear, fast footage that breaks up the continuity. This is one example of a cinematography technique that he is known for. Wong has become an international household name, and global audiences appreciate the feelings that he transmits through his art — they surpass language and cultural barriers.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Wong Kar Wai - 王家衛 (Wángjiāwèi) Copyright © 2023 by Sana Rajendran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book