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Demonstration of restricted freedom for the characters

Question:

Discuss about the Elements of Cinematography Demonstrate.

“In the Mood for love,” is a romantic drama film written and directed by Wong Kar- Wai with the cinematography being conducted by Pin Bing Lee and Christopher Doyle (In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai with English Subtitle). The film follows two key characters as they learn about the unfaithfulness of their spouses and find comfort in each other. However, their expressions of intimacy are confined because of societal norms. The melodrama in the film is not presented in the classic sense, despite the fact that it is an exercise on demonstrating the different faces of love. This is evident in the fact that the director does not probe into the lives of the characters or attempt to question their motives; instead he just observes using the camera to follow the characters without judging. The cinematographers of the film utilize a very distinct manner of conveying intensity and emotions of the characters. In the film the author manages to effectively utilize cultural background in creating aspects of cinematography and mise-en-scene that exhibit what the characters are unable to. This paper reviews how elements of mise-en-scene and cinematography are used to express what the characters in the film cannot.

From the onset of the film, elements of cinematography are used to demonstrate aspects of restricted freedom for the characters. This is witnessed in the manner in which the characters are framed. The two main characters are usually portrayed in a narrow hallway that was along the apartment’s corridor. This portrayal served to represent the restricted freedom that Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow (the two leading characters) had to face in the apartments (In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai with English Subtitle). The aspect of being trapped is also demonstrated in the scene under the shed when it is raining. In this scene, the bars are made noticeable to reflect the fact that being married, both the two characters were trapped in their marriages. It is reflected in the bedroom scene when Mrs. Chan is ceremoniously changing her shoes before going to bed serving to demonstrate the fact that she felt she was trapped in her marriage.

An aspect of brilliant cinematography is depicted in the placemat of the camera as Su opens the window of the apartment house she intends to rent. The camera is placed outside the window of the room and as the windows are open it conveys an aspect of voyeurism as the audience is invited to have a look inside the room. It is also important to note that the room is highly decorated with a number of flowery motifs. These are used to reflect the traditional values that were embraced by Chinese women during the early 1960s. This determination is based in the fact that wall motifs can be traced back to the Jade era when the country started to embrace decorations in most of their objects. The culture of motifs was brought into Hong Kong as refugees from mainland China fled the communist regime.

Use of cultural motifs and background

The shooting of significant portions of the film by one lens serves to enhance the depth of the audience. This helps to avoid the noticeable distortion perspectives thereby providing a smooth transition between the different shots. By doing this the cinematographers provide the audience with the feeling of being in the same room with the two protagonists. The cinematographers utilize the telephoto lens in shooting close-ups that are tightly framed.

This serves to convey the quality associated with personal encounter and in doing so enhance the anxiety projected by the film. A key major aspect of cinematography that is depicted in the film is the use of tracking shots in ensuring a seamless transition between the different spaces (Barsam, and Dave 41). A clear example of this is seen when Su and Chow are in their individual apartments and the cinematographers utilize tracking shot to slide between the two spaces.

Lighting also played a significant role in establishing the emotions that the filmmaker wished to project through the film. The director accentuates the melodrama that is associated with the protagonists through the use of low-key lighting. This is a technique that relies heavily on the use of a single light source in the production of an image in which a significant percentage of the screen is in the shadow (Barsam, and Dave 67).

An example of this is seen in the scene with Mr. Chow walking up the apartments staircase that is dimly-lit. In this scene, low-key lighting is used to demonstrate the emptiness of the characters life. The next scene starts with the camera zooming out from a ceiling light thereby providing a contrasting mood between the two scenes. The use of high key lighting in this scene is to suggest that there is a sense of hope for Mr. Chow as he is going to met Su who will be his solace. In the last scene where the two protagonists say their final words to each other before they part ways, the backlighting had been placed in various angles thereby creating silhouettes which were used to express the inner torment of the characters.


The wall separating the two apartments is used to demonstrate the separation between the two characters. However, it is also evident that as the two characters lean on opposite sides of the wall, it acts as a connector that symbolizes the solace the two found in one another and a form of complicity. The two characters desire to be together but they are faced with a number of factors which act as barrier to them forming a relationship. The wall is used as a symbolism of the barriers ( the fact that they are both married and societal practices) separating them.

Techniques for conveying depth and complicity

The shot of the film’s opening scene demonstrates a partial view of a wall and a lady in her middle ages providing a sense of mystery for the audience as the rest of the house is obscured. One also notices the consistent lack of strong shadow contrast. This depiction serves to allude to the level of mystery that is contained in the film before it even commences. It achieves this by producing a dramatic effect where images from the background that could have completed for the attention of the viewer are eliminated and focus is only on the main characters. By doing so it serves to efficiently prepare the audience for the mystery contained in the film. This is achieved by drawing attention to the light and the objects eliminated by it.

The cinematographers also utilize medium close-up during the chats between Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow to establish a sense of complicity between the two characters. The complecity between the two is evident when Mr. Chow moves into a hotel room so that the two can see each other without any worries on what the other people are saying. It is also evident in Mr. Chow offering Mrs. Chan an opportunity to help him a series of martial art papers. This opportunity provides for them to spend time together. The brilliance of utilizing cinematography to bring out the aspect of complicity in the film is also seen in the type of shots taken when Mr. Chow is whispering through the hole. In this scene, the film utilizes high angle shots to depict Mr. Chow’s vulnerability and the fact that he has no control over the societal status of his love for Mrs. Chan.


Mise-en-scene is used to depict the aspect of complicity in the film through the presentation of the main characters. Through an analysis of the film, it is evident that most of the shots depicting the two main characters are taken behind objects like a curtain, door, and a plant. This serves to demonstrate the inescapable relationship that the two characters have with their spouses who are unfaithful to them and the level of complicity between them. It also serves to demonstrate the fact that there relationship is not open and that they have to hide it from the general public.

Mise-en-scene is used to effectively demonstrate the rime period represented by the film. This is seen in the actors consumes. The costumes were inspired by 1960s Hong Kong where people used to abide by societal set standards of proper decorum for women and couples was regarded as a virtue. Other than the costumes, the make-up was also used to draw emphasis to the human figures and aid to the trait of how well –mannered the leading female actor was. The make-up heavily focused on the face of the lady and consisted largely of bright colors.

The director also manages to integrate the cheongsams which have been intricately designed are an embodiment of the cultural shift that occurred in Hong Kong between the early late 1950s and the late 1960s as Chinese emigrants flooded the Island as they escaped the Communist Revolution. The immigrants brought with them distinct elements of Chinese culture and Cheongsam become quite popular in Hong Kong being regarded as a form of metaphoric misc-en-scene.

The cheongsams design is also used to symbolize the emotional journey of Mrs. Chan as she transitions from a state of emptiness to that of subtle bliss ( when being comforted by Chan). This is evident in the cheongsam changing from the plain flowery motifs that is seen in the opening scene of modern patterns that are more flamboyant (“In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai with English Subtitle.”).

Conclusion

Through an analysis of the film, it is also evident that it maintains a monotonous consistent color palette that is altered only by the occasional inclusion of the color red in forms of Mrs. Chow's costume and the curtains. One should also note that Su’s red outfit serves the purpose of bringing out the sexual tension that exists between the two protagonists.

Every night as before going to bed, the camera would focus on Mrs. Chan as she ceremoniously transitions from one footwear to another (In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai with English Subtitle). This is indicative of a mask used to hide her feelings of despair with regards to her husband who was unfaithful.

From the discussion provided, it is evident that the film director managed to effectively utilize different elements of mise-en-scene and cinematography to bring out the different elements of the film that the characters are for one reason or another unable to do. By focusing on the protagonists the director also managed to ensure that the melodrama depicted in the film was in line with the storyline of the film.

Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at movies. WW Norton & Company, 2015.

“In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai with English Subtitle.” YouTube, YouTube, 15 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0Q1bHqQT0E. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017

Cite This Work

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My Assignment Help. (2018). Elements Of Mise-en-Scene And Cinematography In In The Mood For Love. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/elements-of-cinematography-demonstrate.

"Elements Of Mise-en-Scene And Cinematography In In The Mood For Love." My Assignment Help, 2018, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/elements-of-cinematography-demonstrate.

My Assignment Help (2018) Elements Of Mise-en-Scene And Cinematography In In The Mood For Love [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/elements-of-cinematography-demonstrate
[Accessed 15 June 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Elements Of Mise-en-Scene And Cinematography In In The Mood For Love' (My Assignment Help, 2018) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/elements-of-cinematography-demonstrate> accessed 15 June 2024.

My Assignment Help. Elements Of Mise-en-Scene And Cinematography In In The Mood For Love [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2018 [cited 15 June 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/elements-of-cinematography-demonstrate.

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