Days of Being Wild 阿飛正傳
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Carina Lau, Rebecca Pan, Maggie Cheung
Days of Being Wild is a film about hope and disappointments, remember and forget, the search of one’s own root, own home, and encounter and miss. Also it talks about the continuation of the journey for love, it is all the same when people are young and it applies to all people despite the generation gap or changes in the society.
Disappointment always emerges after a high expectation is given. Leung finds Yuddy’s house is not special after a long-time expectation, it would mean without the initial expectation, disappointment would be avoided. However people would always live with expectation, especially throughout the whole film. So Li-zhen hopes for marriage with Yuddy, Leung Fung-Ying hopes to be together with Yuddy while Zeb hopes to be with Leung, Yuddy wants to get along with his biological mother and Tide hopes to receive the phone call from So Li-zhen. Everyone has his or her own hopes but finally all of them are disappointed.
A lot of close-up shots are used for the characters when they experience disappointment and loss, like Yuddy’s foster mother had sadness in her face when Yuddy left with the truth of whereabouts of his mother. These shots are usually static and stay for a long time to magnify and emphasize the power and emotional level of disappointment.
There are also a lot of rainy days portraying the characters not satisfied or feeling a significant loss in their lives. So Li-zhen wanted to be together with Yuddy again only to be rejected and the rain poured heavily, the more obvious example would be Zeb drove the car to follow Leung and they both could not get who they loved, it could be resembled by the scene of heavy rain.
Nevertheless, after the rain, all the characters may not immediately recover from the pain, yet they all seem to rediscover their directions of life, they all made their choices which they would take action. So Li-zhen decided to start over, Leung decided to go to Philippines to find Yuddy while Zeb decided to sell the car to help Leung, meaning his decision for abandoning (or hiding) the love for Leung. The rain resembles a period for people to rethink and try to figure ways out of the maze they brought to themselves. The character who has no chance to experience the rain is Yuddy, he continues the journey without landing or stopping at anywhere. He is not going to land even after his death since the train is still heading forward. Therefore, the ultimate disappointment which cannot be recovered is not about the long-lost love between lovers, yet it is about the love devoted to home, to your own blood line.
The film name is actually reflecting days of youngsters and frivolity when young people would freely choose what to do without a price. They would not realize the end of life is coming, and they would try their best to go forward to search for more possibilities. No mentioning of responsibility and moral burdens would keep them move on and on, like the birds without legs said by Yuddy in the film.
The “Cha-cha” dancing in his room earlier already shows Yuddy’s personality which is so relaxing and light with mix of rhythm. “Cha-cha” does not contain the typical “rise and fall” motion and it perfectly matches with birds flying without landing. Furthermore, the panning of camera from left to right over the forest resembles a bird. The plot that Yuddy would not like to be financially supported by Leung would match with the free-flying birds as well. Yuddy’s death in the moving train would perfectly resemble the birds, and he still could not land on the ground when he died.
Another recurring theme in Wong Kar Wai’s films is the motif of time, which is directly referenced in characters’ dialogues, like So Li-zhen and Yuddy built up their relationship by the one-minute to 3 pm while Yuddy and Leung finished establishing their first sexual relation at around 3 am. Yuddy met Tide in the Philippines, and the time was also around 3 am. Both time periods are the same but distinct in terms of day and night. 3 am, or 3 pm, is at the middle of day/night, approaching sunset/sunrise, resembling the period of depravity and disorientation.
The sleepless nights of different characters and the dark cinematography of scenes would be evidence of an intoxicating and restless status of the society and people living in there. Tide and So Li-zhen talked the whole night and later he talked with Yuddy when Yuddy wanted to drink until dawn. The static shot shows that time seem not to pass away so easily at these nights; a lot of establishing shots would be used to capture the features of the city (Hong Kong but not Philipines) which expresses a feeling of loneliness in the characters and time of pain and being alone would not easily leave.