Film can be much more than entertainment; they can also help students better understand themselves, their culture, and other cultures.
In the Mood for Love is a marvelous foreign language movie that written, produced, and directly by Wong Kai-wai. This movie won many awards including best actor, best actress, best art direction, and best costume and make-up design, best picture, best screenplay, best cinematography from different film awards and festivals. The original Chinese title means the “age of blossoms” or “ the flowery years”-Chinese metaphor for the fleeting time of youth, beauty and love. In 2016 BBC named In the Mood for Love the 2nd best film of the century. It has been selected as the Best Asian Movie in history by CNN.com as well.
This movie talks about two neighbors, a man- a journalist, and a woman- a secretary, move into the same apartment building, and they gradually realize their respective spouses are having an affair. They drift closer and closer and develop their own romance. “It’s a film about love, loss, missed opportunities, memory, the brutality of time's passage, and loneliness”.
The movie is physically impressive and attractive. The deep colors of film thoroughly soak the scenes: reds, yellows, browns, deep shadows, and it mixes moody monochromatic. One scene opens with only a coil of cigarette smoke, and then reveals its characters. In the hallway outside of the two apartments, the camera slides back and forth emphasizing not their nearness but that there are two apartments, not one.
The traditional Chinese dress Qipao is the highlight of the movie. The female character Maggie Cheung goes through the movie wearing 21 different variations of the traditional dress. Her outfits seems to be unperturbed by the emotional turbulence that goes on under her perfectly carefully arranged in an attractive style, and seem to only work as a visual companion to the wonderfully assembled sets and interiors of the film. “ If tea is sipped from a jade-tree cup, then her chosen dress will be wonderfully color matched”.
Wong also uses music to brilliant effect, “most obviously Yumeji's Theme, the recurring, mournful cello refrain which follows the couple around the rainy streets. Never has popping out to get some noodles seemed more glamorous, or more sad.”
In my lesson, I plan to let my students view a scene from Kong Kong in 1960 which the music and visuals reflect the modern life of Chinese in Hong Kong at that time. They then use a scene analysis framework to explore why Wong Kai-wai ( the director) chose the setting, camera angles, lighting, and music and what choices do they create the scene’s tone. Then I will let them to talk about Chinese culture that related to the traditional Chinese dress -Qipao. Students will reflect on the scene individually and in groups and then create their own scene to be presented to the rest of the class.