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Time after Time: Exploring Temporality and Identity in Wong Kar‐wai’s Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046


Wong Kar-wai is part of a generation of Hong Kong filmmakers whose work can be seen in response to two pivotal events in Hong Kong, the 1984 signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration detailing Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997 and the events of Tiananmen Square in 1989. As a condition of the handover, China has promised a fifty-year period in which the economic system and way of life in Hong Kong are to remain unchanged, and that period ends in the year 2046. It would be an error, however, to read Wong’s films in a political context solely because he is a Hong Kong filmmaker, and Rey Chow criticizes such a wholesale political reading of Hong Kong cinema, writing, “I am referring to the tendency, whenever a non-Western work is being analyzed, to affix to it a kind of reflectionist value by way of geopolitical realism so that a film made in Hong Kong around 1997, for instance, would invariably be approached as having something to do with the factographic ‘reality’ of Hong Kong's return to the People's Republic of China” (“Nostalgia” 32). Chow suggests that an analysis which deliberately departs from such a reading might be more beneficial. Although I understand and agree with Chow’s criticism, for the purpose of this essay I take a viewpoint closer to that of Ka-Fai Yau who maintains that Hong Kong’s geopolitical position does affect its cinema.

Faculty Mentor: Mark Berrettini