A Look at Hong Kong's New Wave Sentimentality: Rey Chow's Reconceptualization of Nostalgia and the Allegorical Implications of the Image in Wong Kar-Wai's 'In the Mood for Love'

By Raechel Dumas.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Like their First New Wave predecessors, many of Hong Kong's Second New Wave directors veered from the fast-paced, action-packed Hong Kong filmic trend in order to approach more stylistically and directly a wide array of social issues that had yet to be so straightforwardly addressed in contemporary media. Amongst and perhaps at the forefront of these issues was an increasing feeling of collective anxiety regarding the future of Hong Kong's identity in the face of, and later following, England's 1997 handover of the city to its radically changed motherland, China. The handling of this issue by the Second New Wave filmmakers resulted in a remarkable nostalgia trend never before so prevalent on the Hong Kong big screen, and, I find, critic Rey Chow’s exploration of this trend results in two most interesting considerations: 1. that nostalgia may not be so much a feeling for something that is lost as much as a feeling of looking for something; and 2. that there is a distinct relation between nostalgia and the filmic image. Using Chow’s conceptualization of nostalgia, this paper discusses the construction of the past in one of the most representative films of the Hong Kong Second New Wave-- Wong Kar-wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love'-- in order to explore both how the film enters into popular discourse surrounding the handover and whether Wong's images of the past function beyond the realm of post-colonial pastiche via translatability into real-world ideology and action.

Keywords: Hong Kong Cinema, Post-Colonialism, Asian Cinema, Film Studies, Wong Kar-wai, Nostalgia

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.135-140. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 489.770KB).

Dr. Raechel Dumas

Multicultural Film Teacher, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Raechel Dumas is an MA student in the Florida State University Department of Interdisciplinary Humanities. She specializes in early Modern Japanese and Chinese literature and teaches courses in Hong Kong Cinema and Culture and Modern Humanities.

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