Wong Kar-wai, September 2008
|Chinese name||王家衛 (traditional)|
17 July 1958 |
Wong Kar-wai, BBS (born 17 July 1958) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Days of Being Wild (1990), Ashes of Time (1994), Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), Happy Together (1997), 2046 (2004) and The Grandmaster (2013). His film In the Mood for Love (2000), starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, garnered widespread critical acclaim. Wong's films frequently feature protagonists who yearn for romance in the midst of a knowingly brief life and scenes that can often be described as sketchy, digressive, exhilarating, and containing vivid imagery.
Wong was the first Chinese director to win the Best Director Award of Cannes Film Festival (for his work Happy Together in 1997). Wong was the President of the Jury at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, which makes him the only Chinese person to preside over the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. He was also the President of the Jury at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2013.
In 2006, Wong accepted the National Order of the Legion of Honour: Knight (Highest Degree) from the French Government. In 2013, Wong accepted Order of Arts and Letters: Commander (Highest Degree) by the French Minister of Culture.
- 1 Early career
- 2 Work as director
- 3 Filmography
- 4 Screenwriter and producer
- 5 Awards and Nominations
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Born in Shanghai, he moved to Hong Kong with his parents in 1963. Coming from Mainland China only speaking Mandarin and Shanghainese, he spent hours in cinemas with his mother. In 1980, after studying two years at Hong Kong Polytechnic College in graphic design, he enrolled in the Production Training Course organised by Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and became a full-time television screenwriter. In the mid-1980s, he became a screenwriter/director at The Wing Scope Co. and In-gear Film Production Company, the production houses owned by renowned Hong Kong actor /movie producer Alan Tang.
Wong's current style took shape during his apprenticeship with Alan Tang Kwong-Wing, who invested in the first movie he directed, As Tears Go By (1988). Wong's career took off when he directed the film Days of Being Wild (1990), despite losing Alan Tang millions of invested dollars. He is credited with about ten scripts between 1982 and 1987, covering an array of genres from romantic comedy to action drama, but claims to have worked to some extent or another on about fifty more without official credit. He considers Final Victory (最後勝利, 1986), a dark comedy/crime story for director Patrick Tam Kar Ming, his best script.
Work as director
He made his directing debut in 1988 with As Tears Go By, produced by Alan Tang. A crime melodrama of the kind then hugely popular, it heavily borrowed from Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1974), but already displayed one of Wong's principal trademarks in its atmospheric and sometimes expressionistic color palette. It is his only box office hit to date. His next film, Days of Being Wild (1990), a drama about aimless youth set in the early 1960s, established his trademark form: elliptically plotted mood pieces, with lush visuals and music, about the burden of memory on melancholic, misfit characters. Days was a box office failure but now regularly tops Hong Kong critics' polls of the best local films ever made. It has been described[by whom?] as a sort of Cantonese Rebel Without a Cause.
Wong went on to direct several more feature films in the 1990s produced by Jet Tone, which allowed him to work at his own pace. Among these was Chungking Express (1994), which follows the lives of two Hong Kong policemen and the mysterious women they meet and fall in love with. Originally intended to be a distraction piece for him to get his mind off of the heavily delayed Ashes of Time, it ended up being one of his most popular films. Fallen Angels (1995) was originally intended to be the third act of Chungking Express, but when the tone didn't fit with the other two parts, he cut it out and made it a stand-alone movie instead; it is seen[by whom?] as a semi-sequel to Chungking Express and is a neo-noir film about a disillusioned killer trying to overcome the affections of his partner, a strange drifter looking for her ex-boyfriend, and a mute trying to get the world's attention in his own ways, all set against a sordid and surreal urban nightscape.
Wong's fourth movie, Ashes of Time (1994), released between Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, applied his approach to a star-studded wuxia (martial arts swordplay) story; the desert shoot in Mainland China dragged on for over a year and resulted in one of contemporary Hong Kong cinema's most notorious commercial disasters. His first major international recognition was at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival where he won the Best Director prize for Happy Together (1997). It "uses gorgeous, saturated images set to an eclectic soundtrack of tango by Argentinian maestro Astor Piazzolla, Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso and Frank Zappa instrumentals to chronicle the stormy affair of a gay couple living as expatriates in Buenos Aires."
The filming of In the Mood for Love (2000) had to be shifted from Beijing to Macau after the Chinese Film Bureau demanded to see the completed script. This was all in all a minor setback in the "very complicated evolution" of the project which goes as far back as 1997. It was Wong's intention to make two films, one of which would be titled Beijing Summer, the plot unclear at the time, but eventually taking form in Macau. Here Wong planned to call it Three Stories About Food but saw it better to settle for only one story, A Story About Food, that centres on a writer. Including scenes shot in Bangkok and Angkor Wat, the filming took 15 months. This was an especially arduous time for lead actress Maggie Cheung whose hair and makeup reportedly took five hours each day. She compared the lengthy shoot to a cold she couldn't get rid of. Working without deadlines, the film's upcoming première at Cannes nonetheless put some pressure on Wong to finish editing. Intending to name the film Secrets he was dissuaded by Cannes, as there were already many films with that title, and finally named it In the Mood for Love after listening to Bryan Ferry's recording of the song I'm in the Mood for Love.
Wong established his independent production company, called Jet Tone Films Ltd, with director and producer Jeffrey Lau. His next film, 2046 (2004), about capturing lost memories, was the third chapter of a shared story that began with Days of Being Wild and continued with In the Mood for Love. Infamous for long, drawn-out shoots without any real regards to deadlines, a running joke amongst the crew was that he would finish in the year 2046. In 2006, Wong became the first Chinese director to preside the jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
Wong Kar-wai's first full English-language film, My Blueberry Nights (2007), opened the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as one of 22 films in competition. The lead, American singer-songwriter Norah Jones, made her acting debut in the film. His next film, The Grandmaster was released in 2013.
Despite his background as a screenwriter, one of Wong's trademarks as a director is that he works largely through improvisation and experimentation involving the actors and crew rather than adhering to a fixed screenplay. This has been a frequent source of trouble for his actors, his financial backers and many other people connected with his films, including sometimes himself..
Wong frequently re-casts actors who he has worked with on previous movies:
|Actor||As Tears Go By
|Days of Being Wild
|Ashes of Time
|In the Mood for Love
|Eros: "The Hand"
|My Blueberry Nights
|Tony Leung Chiu-Wai|
Wong Kar-wai has directed short films, television commercials and music videos.
In 1996 he shot wkw/tk/1996@7′55″hk.net for Japanese designer Takeo Kikuchi, starring Tadanobu Asano and Karen Mok; in 1997 he helmed a three-minute commercial for the Motorola StarTAC starring Tadanobu and Faye Wong; in 2000 he produced a Yang Zi-directed commercial for Suntime Wine with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung and directed a segment for JCDecaux's Un matin partout dans le monde, a commercial featuring different kinds of dawns in cities around the world shot by famous movie directors; in 2001 he directed the TV spot Dans la ville for the French mobile network company Orange France  and the short film The Hire: The Follow as part of the BMW films initiative; in 2002 he helmed La Rencontre, a commercial for Lacoste starring Chang Chen and fr:Diane de Mac Mahon; in 2005 he filmed an ad for Dior's Capture Totale perfume starring Sharon Stone. Around 21 September 2006, in Prague, he directed a commercial (released in early 2007) for Lancôme Paris's Hypnôse Homme perfume starring Clive Owen and Daria Werbowy. Around 25 June 2007, again in Prague, he directed a set of commercials for SoftBank, starring Brad Pitt. Also in 2007 he directed an ad for Dior's Midnight Poison perfume starring Eva Green and featuring Muse's song "Space Dementia". On 30 August 2007, There's Only One Sun, a short film he scripted and directed for Philips' Aurea HD Flat TV, starring Amélie Daure, premiered at the IFA in Berlin. On 18 October 2011, Mask, his Charles Bukowski ("Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame")-inspired commercial for Japanese cosmetics line Shu Uemura starring Taiwanese actress Sandrine Pinna, was released on YouTube. His short film for Chivas Regal 25, Déjà vu, starring Chang Chen and Du Juan premiered during the 2012 Cannes Film Festival at the Chivas House on the Chérie Chéri beach in Cannes.
In 1992, the Taiwanese singer, Tracy Huang ying ying's song 'To make you happy' music video was directed by Wong Kar-Wai, starring Hong Kong actor, Leung kar fai. In 2000 Wong directed a music video of Tony Leung's duet with Niki of a song from the In the Mood for Love soundtrack to be included in Tony Leung's CD by the same name and on the French DVD release of In the Mood for Love. In 2002 Wong helmed the music video Six Days for DJ Shadow featuring Chang Chen and Danielle Graham.
Other short films
His short film Hua yang de nian hua is a montage of scenes from vintage Chinese films, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s, set to a song from the soundtrack of In the Mood for Love, it was shown at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival. Wong also contributed two segments to two omnibus films: in 2004 "The Hand" to Eros and in 2007 "I Travelled 9000 km to Give It to You" to To Each His Own Cinema.
|1988||As Tears Go By||旺角卡門|
|1990||Days of Being Wild||阿飛正傳|
|Ashes of Time||東邪西毒|
|2000||In the Mood for Love||花樣年華|
|2007||My Blueberry Nights||藍莓之夜|
|2000||Hua yang de nian hua||花樣的年華|
|2001||The Hire: The Follow|
|2007||"I Travelled 9000 km to Give It to You"|
|There's Only One Sun|
Screenwriter and producer
||This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (June 2013)|
Wong is officially credited with about ten screenplays while having worked on another fifty in one way or another before his directorial debut. He has yet to direct a feature based on a script other than his own (though Ashes of Time was rather loosely adapted from a Louis Cha novel), which would be highly unlikely considering his method of improvisation. Wong, through Jet Tone, is also the producer of all of his own films since 1993 with the exception of Ashes of Time, a project that began much earlier. Through Jet Tone or otherwise, Wong has also produced various films, some directed by his partner in the company, Jeffrey Lau. Here are lists of films other than his own that Wong wrote screenplays for or produced:
Once Upon a Rainbow (1982), Just for Fun (1983), Silent Romance (1984), Chase a Fortune (1985), Intellectual Trio (1985), Unforgettable Fantasy (1985), Sweet Surrender (1986), Rosa (1986), Goodbye My Hero (1986), The Final Test (1987), Final Victory (1987), Flaming Brothers aka Dragon and Tiger Fight (1987), The Haunted Cop Shop (1987), The Haunted Cop Shop (1988), Walk on Fire (1988), Return Engagement (1990), Saviour of the Soul (1991).
Flaming Brothers aka Dragon and Tiger Fight (1987), The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993), First Love: the Litter on the Breeze (1997), Chinese Odyssey 2002 (2002), Sound of Colors (2003), The Ferryman (2015).
Awards and Nominations
- Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, David (2010). Film History: An Introduction (3rd ed. ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. p. 651. ISBN 978-0-07-338613-3.
- "The International Jury 2013". berlinale. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
- "Sight & Sound | Modern Times". BFI. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- "Wong Kar-wai Awarded France’s Biggest Cultural Honor". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Stokes, Lisa Odham; Michael Hoover (1999). City on Fire: Hong Kong Cinema. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-203-8.
- "Festival de Cannes: Happy Together". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
- "Chinese Directors – Wong Kar-wai". Multilingualbooks.com. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Decade: Wong Kar-wai on "In The Mood For Love"|Filmmakers,Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews. Indiewire (2012-10-26). Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
- Kaufman, Anthony (2 February 2001). "INTERVIEW: The "Mood" of Wong Kar-wai; the Asian Master Does it Again". IndieWire. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
- Rayns, Tony (August 2000). "In The Mood For Edinburgh". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
- Connie Ling (1997). "Banned Ads Turn Out to Be Publicity Booster". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Star Tac commercial". GeoCities. 1999. Archived from the original on 1999-11-28. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Star Tac commercial". GeoCities. 1999. Archived from the original on 1999-11-29. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "WKW Interview from City Entertainment Magazine". GeoCities / City Entertainment Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Charles Mudede (30 March 2000). "Bright and Beautiful Images: Wong Kar-wai Makes a Commercial for Motorola". The Stranger. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Suntime Wine CM by Wong Kar-Wai". members.jcom.home.ne.jp. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "JC Decaux CM by WKW". members.jcom.home.ne.jp. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Orange "Dans la ville"". BUF Compagnie. 2001. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Florence Duarte (30 May 2002). "Nouvelle peau pour le croco" (in French). L'Hebdo. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Kari Molvar (6 October 2011). "First Look: Wong Kar-Wai X Shu Uemura". Style.com. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Kevin Jagernauth (14 December 2011). "Watch: Wong Kar-Wai's Charles Bukowski Inspired Ad for Shu Uemura Cosmetics". IndieWire. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Kevin Jagernauth (11 May 2012). "New Wong Kar-Wai Short Film 'Dejavu' to Premiere at Cannes". IndieWire. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- John Charles (7 October 2002). "Hong Kong Digital #128a: In the Mood for Love". Dighkmovies.com. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Abbas, M. A. Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8166-2925-0.
- Bordwell, David. Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-674-00214-8.
- Dannen, Fredric, and Barry Long. Hong Kong Babylon: The Insider's Guide to the Hollywood of the East. New York: Miramax, 1997. ISBN 0-7868-6267-X.
- Dissanayake, Wimal, and Dorothy Wong. Wong Kar Wai's Ashes of Time. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2003. ISBN 962-209-585-2.
- Lalanne, Jean-Marc, et al. Wong Kar Wai. Paris: Dis Voir, 1997. ISBN 2-906571-67-9. (French)
- Tambling, Jeremy. Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2003. ISBN 962-209-589-5.
- Botz-Bornstein, Thorsten. Films and Dreams: Tarkovsky, Bergman, Sokurov, Kubrick, and Wong Kar-Wai. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. ISBN 0-7391-2187-1.
- Brown, Andrew M. J. Directing Hong Kong: The Political Cinema of John Woo and Wong Kar-Wai. Political Communications in Greater China: the Construction and Reflection of Identity. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2001. ISBN 0-7007-1734-X.
- Brunette, Peter, and Kar-wai Wong. Wong Kar-Wai. Contemporary Film Directors. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2005. ISBN 0-252-02992-5, ISBN 0-252-07237-5.
- Redmond, Sean. Studying Chungking Express. Leighton Buzzard: Auteur, 2004. ISBN 1-903663-30-X.
- Teo, Stephen. Wong Kar-Wai: Auteur of Time. World Directors. London: BFI, 2004. ISBN 1-84457-028-2, ISBN 1-84457-029-0.
- Wong, Kar-wai, Yichang Liu, and Kar-wai Wong. Tête-bêche: A Wong Kar Wai Project. Hong Kong: Block 2 Pictures, 2000. ISBN 962-86051-1-9.
- Wong, Kar-wai, and Tony Rayns. Wong Kar-Wai on Wong Kar-Wai. London: Faber, 2002. ISBN 0-571-19397-8.
In other languages
- Aleksandrowicz, Joanna. Pomiędzy obrazem a wskazówkami zegarów: o estetyce nietrwałości w filmach Wong Kar-waia. Kraków: Rabid, 2008. ISBN 83-60236-30-5. (Polish)
- Alovisio, Silvio, Vanessa Durando, and Micaela Veronesi. Le ceneri del tempo: il cinema di Wong Kar Wai. Piombino (LI): Traccedizioni, 1997. ISBN 88-7205-096-0. (Italian)
- Gliatta, Leonardo. Wong Kar-Wai: [saggio critico, foto, filmografia, dichiarazioni del regista, antologia della critica]. Roma: D. Audino, 2004. ISBN 88-86350-77-5. (Italian)
- Jousse, Thierry. Wong Kar-Wai. Les petits cahiers. Paris: Cahiers du cinéma, 2006. ISBN 2-86642-457-3, ISBN 2-240-02519-0. (French)
- Schnelle, Josef, and Rüdiger Suchsland. Zeichen und Wunder das Kino von Zhang Yimou und Wong Kar-Wai. Marburg: Schüren, 2008. ISBN 3-89472-438-2. (German)
- Heredero, Carlos F. "La herida del tiempo. El cine de Wong Kar-wai'; 47 Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid; Valladolid, 2002. ISBN 84-87737-45-5 (Spanish)
|Awards and achievements|
for The Killer
|Hong Kong Film Award for Best Director
for Days of Being Wild
for Once Upon a Time in China
for C'est la vie, mon chéri
|Hong Kong Film Award for Best Director
for Chungking Express
for The Stunt Woman