In the Mood for Love – Angkor Wat Finale

In the Mood for Love 花樣年華

Director: Wong Kar Wai

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-wai , Maggie Cheung

The love story between Chow Mo Wan and Su Li Zhen left deep impacts on both characters and Chow chooses to unleash all his emotions in the remote place Cambodia. This analysis would include an insight for the mise-en-scene in the final sequence.

There are a lot of contrasts shown in the final sequence with the opening to demonstrate the forever loss of ‘blossom period’, like noise versus quiet in Angkor Wat, crowds of people versus nobody, and colorful versus lack of colour. They symbolize the established history would be gone and now comes a new space and hence another different life. Another technique used for audience to understand the lives would no longer stay the same is the change of theme music. “Angkor Wat Theme Finale” is only used once for the final sequence while the whole film features “Yumeji’s Theme”. Moreover, the most important contrast in the sequence compared with the entire film is the angle used is wider and a long shot panning from left to right in Cambodia gives us the whole view while the whole movie is like a pepper and always attempts to hide the whole view and gives audience part of the context only. The free space delivers the message that there is no more hiding and it gives an end to the covert love between two leading characters.

The religious approach in choosing Angkor Wat as the place for Chow to bury the secret is important because the betrayal to marriage from the character is always considered as a sin and cannot be revealed honestly in the entire film. The action for Chow to reveal all his secrets in the hole resembles closely with the confession concept, which includes admission of committing sins in the past. A religious perspective viewed in the sequence is the high angle showing a monk on the upper layer looking down on Chow when he delivered the secret in the hole. It represents that God would always know the secret despite the unawareness of the whole world for the feelings and past experience of the character.

Another important reason for using Angkor Wat is the place shares similarity with the situation in Hong Kong. The political instability in Hong Kong in 1966 closely matches the montage of news clips in Cambodia. Many empty shots show the destructive landscape and the holy place is incomplete. Not only do they represent the broken heart of Chow and his hopelessness, but the shots also give us an idea that the past history of Hong Kong, referring back to the good old days in the film when neighbors are close and friendly, would be frozen in time and always lost with the love story itself. The utter burial of secret is also shown by the detail shot of the hole filled up by wild grass. To conclude, the final sequence tells audience about Chow’s abandoning of the love and it further metaphors the lost history of Hong Kong. The romance would only be celebrated in the past.


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