Joined: 27 Jan 2003
|Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 7:40 pm Post subject: StudioLA's Wendy Chan interviews Wong Kar-wai: ITMFL
AC Team's Wendy Chan was invited to interview the stars of "In the Mood for Love," at a round table discussion at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles.
Wong Kar-wai is one of the most innovative filmmakers working in cinema today. In 1997, his films Happy Together and Fallen Angels were shown at the New York Film Festival.
Q: What happened in the end of the movie? Did you intentionally leave it up in the air?
Wong Kar-wai: Yeah, I think so, because we have deleted the love scenes between them, at the last minute we sent the film to Cannes, because as an audience, I don't think I want to see that happen in front of my eyes. I prefer the space for me to imagine. I will guess, because I always think the audience should be one of the neighbors, because neighbors always keep spying on these two persons. And there are some things that shouldn't be seen, you can guess. And also I think this makes the whole thing more ambiguous. And I think it's up to the audience to decide about the kid, about the affairs, and actually I think it's more appropriate in that way.
Q: But you tend to have open ended endings in some of your other films too, is it your goal to make people think about what's going on because it has to do with relationships and things are not black and white in relationships?
Wong: I always think it's all right for the audience to ask questions, because you should make a film… or we provide the questions and you give the answers by yourself. And the films have very simple stories, and we are not creating something very, very difficult or complicated, and there are some things that I think through asking a question it's fun, because you have to be involved in the film. Like the kid, because that means you have to imagine the whole relationship in certain directions, and I think that makes the films more interactive in a way.
Q: Your other films, they haven't been black and white or show that "this is what happened," or "this is how this person feels" in the end.
Wong: Normally, I think for me, the ending, because the film is about a period that has been lost, and I think we have to show the end of the chapters and not only what happens to these two persons and also about other things that are happening in that period.
We go through all this history and events happening in Cambodia in 1966. The biggest thing is De Gaulle visiting Cambodia, and what he said in Cambodia is outrageous, it is extremely colonial. Nobody will take that now, so I think that belongs to that part of history. And for me it's not an open ending...it's a very positive ending because people said it's a sad story, but to me it's not so sad because I don't think [the characters] would be very happy if they left together. For me I think the two characters in the film actually have become more independent and more complete and they can do something that they like.
Like [Tony's character], he becomes a journalist, and he works outside Hong Kong and he does something that he thinks is very important to him. And also for Maggie, she lives by herself with her kid, and she has a job, and I think these are very positive things, and they might meet each other but that is another story.
Q: (Laughter) Most of your movies are very romantic. Are you deeply romantic? Do you think of yourself as a romanticist?
Wong: I don't think I'm very romantic, because to me I just do everything by instinct. I think, well, this is the way to see things, then I just do it like that.
Q: Can you talk about the use of music - when you're shooting do you know what music you want to use? Are you thinking about music, or is that all in the editing process when put that back in, because this movie is almost like a whole music piece?
Wong: To me the film is like a chain of music. When we started to make this film, I had the music in my mind, and the music is waltz music that has been repeated in the film all the time.
The music is composed by a Japanese composer in 1972 for a Japanese film directed by Suzuki Saiju. The composer is a friend of mine, and he keeps on sending me tapes of his work, and somehow the music just clicks and I think the relationship of these two persons actually is like a dance. It's like a waltz, moving back and forth, it's testing and it's tempting. So we decided to use that music and I play that music to my cameraman and said, okay, that will be the tempo of the film. The rhythm should be like this. And the rest of the music, because we wanted to recreate that period, so it's not only the look of the dress but also the sound.
And in 1962 because Hong Kong is a British colony with a lot of Chinese living there, we have Western music, we have Japanese music, we have Cantonese music, Mandarin operas and pop songs. So to me it's like a radio program, and they are the radio days of Hong Kong. At one point we invited all these radio people, there were 70 something, back the studio to record all these radio programs, weather, news, and so it's fun. We created the radio programs again.
Q: Do you have this as a technique where you use the same songs over and over again in your films, which works really politically. For example in "Chungking Express," did you scheme the movie visually based on California Dreaming?
Wong: Because we want to create the routine for these two persons, and most of our stories are about people who try to break away from the routine or a certain orbit in their life, because we always have our habits and we always follow our habits, and some days we feel something's wrong and we are not happy with our lives and we want to do something.
But we need something to push us out of these things, and mostly in my films it is because of love or because of being out of love. And we want to see the changes through the unchanged, because we keep seeing these two persons walking the same corridors, working in the same space, and we have the music always repeating itself. But actually we can see the changes because we can see during the films that these two persons are actually changing.
Q: Why did you choose Nat King Cole?
Wong: Nat King Cole is extremely popular in Hong Kong. And we have the Spanish song because in those days the musicians in Hong Kong are mostly from the Philippines, so the Spanish influence is very strong. And also Nat King Cole is my mother's favorite.
Q: I think also the elements play a big part as well. I mean, there is just so much rain in this movie. I was just wondering if that was some sort of emotion or some sort of mood that you wanted to project as well, particularly because most of the time when it's raining it's like they are not aware of that. They get a little wet, but that it. Was there some purpose of that as well?
Wong: You have to understand Hong Kong is a tropical city, it rains all the time. Hong Kong is a small city, and it's not like Los Angeles, if it's raining you will die, you have to find a way to hide. But actually I like rain. It is like smoke. Sometimes it just create the mood, and it is an extension of something.
Q: I read somewhere that you and Christopher Doyle had some sort of falling out during the middle of the production. Was that at all true?
Wong: No, I don't think so. The reason Chris had to leave production was because at first we thought that the film should be done in a few months but actually it takes 15 months, and he has committed to make a film in the States, and the agency is so tough, so he has to go. So we have to work with another cameraman. Actually at the beginning of the shooting of this film, we decided the film should be more classical in a way, so he could not dance with his camera, so in fact it is very hard for him to keep quiet behind the camera. But he is doing a very good job in the film.
Q: It was kind of a lengthy process for you to film. I think you mentioned in the notes that you were shooting this through the economic crisis and there were some crew people that had to leave. Was this anymore difficult than any of your other films?
Wong: Yes, it was one of the most difficult things, because we have the experience with the schedule and other difficulties in making a film, but this time?you have to understand about this Asian Financial Crisis, because it is coming out of nowhere suddenly. And it seems to be the end of the world, because our finance is mostly from Asia, and the investors in the film all have problems.
So suddenly you see, those people just disappear, and not only the film people, it's about all the people in different business. And so we have a very hard time to find new investors too, so we have to stop the productions, and then when we have to stop the production, the finance of the film, the schedule of actors become a problem, because Maggie [Cheung] has to prepare for a [Steven] Spielberg film, "Memoirs of a Geisha," and Tong [Leung] is going to make a film in Tokyo.
All sorts of things, because we have to wait and wait, and at one point because we have committed to make another film at the end of last year, so we cannot postpone it; because there are different actors, and the schedule is tight too, so we have to make two films back to back at the same time. So it created a lot of problems.
But also we would benefit from that, because we have to shoot two films at the same time, we have to shoot "2046" in Bangkok and we are shooting "2046" we look for the location, we realized there is something...so we decided to move productions to Bangkok to shoot the rest of the film. And so the film actually benefits from that.
Q: "2046" takes place on the beach that you are shooting on location. Is there costume designing?
Wong: Yes, but don't expect "The Fifth Element."
Q: How much control did you have over the final script of "2046?" How much control did you have and how much did you have to deal with the censors?
Wong: If we are going to make the film in Hong Kong, we don't have any censor problems, you can do any topic you like as long as you can find the market, and I work as a writer, director, and also the producer, so I take up all these dirty jobs. So it is my responsibility to take care of this business.
Q: Do you have an optimistic view of 50 years from now, or do you have a pessimistic film?
Wong: I always want to think in a very optimistic way.
Q: Thank you so much.
Wong: Thank you.