2046 by Wong, 2004

2046 is a sequel to In the Mood for Love, on which I posted previously. The cinematography is exquisite, affording plenty of striking screen shots, but I’ve included only two (I can put up more if anybody wants to see them). The dialogue is spoken in Cantonese, and I happened to click two images while the subtitles still appeared on the screen. Presented this way, as static shots with the words written beneath, one gets the sense of looking at still photographs with their accompanying titles. What would it be like if a film were built this way: shoot the film first, then assign dialogue to the images after the fact? It would be like returning to the silent movie era, where words are completely dependent on and secondary to images. It’s also like writing a tune and then adding the lyrics later, which I expect is the way it’s usually done. I have no idea how many contemporary movies are constructed by envisioning it visually first, in its entirely, and only afterward writing the script. Not many, I’m guessing.


  1. parodycenter says:

    This I found occasionally inspiring, but for a greater part, pretentious and boring. When you distill the story to its basic elements it’s about a fortyish brat who can’t grow up so he keeps seeking emotional fulfillment through endless film noirish sex. (What exactly is interesting about that? The egocentric bastard got what he deserved) Then it becomes a semi-engaging philosophy on time travel and those Deleuzian flows and interconnections in global capitalism… ending with a promising but underdeveloped SF tale about robots. This is what I remember from the film, as well as a rather clever shtick with off-centered compositions disabling conventional identification, which was curious for such a Romantic film, producing a wandering/nostalgic/hauntological Romanticism not unlike VERTIGO.


  2. ktismatics says:

    The off-centeredness was odd: here’s this very lush and stylish camera technique often cramped into one side of the frame, sometimes even a smaller space than that. Sort of claustrophobic, like none of these people could escape from the constraints, even though they seemed like intrinsically colorful and potentially flamboyant characters. They were all trapped in the past, unable to break free. In the Mood for Love was a better movie; 2046 almost seemed like a sorrowful memory of longing for that prior excellence.


  3. parodycenter says:

    As I mentioned on the LO post, Nostalgia is worth discussing. The sorrowful memory indeed. In this film, it seems like the past has been frozen and stretched endlessly. It is claustrophobic, but alluringly so. It provides for an interesting mix of (erotic) desire and existential despair. Is this not the perfect description of the 21st century status? I am thinking about Tarkovski’s NOSTALGIA.


  4. ktismatics says:

    “the past has been frozen and stretched endlessly”

    It’s the timeless train ride back from 2046, the parallel memory-reality. There was no linear story development, since everyone was embedded in the timelessness of memory. No one has ever come back from 2046, the narrator says, and by the end the narrator still isn’t any closer to his own personal return from memory. This wasn’t so much about story or character as about mood, which does link it to Tarkovsky (I haven’t seen Nostalgia). I thought the movie suffered by being too long, inasmuch as the nature of the memory world is established very early and doesn’t really change — it just goes through seemingly endless cycles.

    In the first movie the narrator is never able to act on his desire either, because it’s never properly his desire. Desire is refracted through the other: his wife and the husband of the woman are having an affair; these two are the ones who have been rejected; they find an incomplete desire for one another by imitating their own unfaithful spouses. But this passively attained desire is never enough, and the attraction never turns into an affair. Now the obstacle to desire is memory, regret, endlessly-deferred opportunity. There was a better time for love in memory, but this love was itself unsatisfying. The short-circuiting of desire keeps it trapped in this endless cycle of unfulfillment.


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