Joined: 27 Jan 2003
|Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2004 6:06 pm Post subject: Intense romantic--2046 (10/1/04)
After years of jokes that 2046 would not be finished until 2046, it has finally opened to wide acclaim.
It has been five years since the Hong Kong-based writer-director Wong Kar-wai started shooting. Reports on the film have not ceased, about changes in the cast, the plot, finishing dates, the final premier, and the final master copy.
Before September 28, the anticipated date of the premiere, it still remained an enigma to the public, even to the cast, admitting their confusion during pre-premier press conferences.
However, after its screening across the world, the legend of Wong Kar-wai has not been lost.
Named as 'the most romantic filmmaker in the world' by US Time Magazine, Wong has attracted the most extensive attention worldwide since the release of the film, a science fiction love story where a man fights against his haunted past and finds escape in an imaginary world.
Last Saturday, the Hong Kong director appeared in his signature casual dress: sports jacket, crew cut, and the never-absent black sunglasses.
Beijing is the last stop for the film's promotion in China, first premiered in Shanghai on September 18, and in Guangzhou on September 24.
About 200 media representatives attended the press conference, many of them already participating in the previous openings. Still, upon his arrival one and a half hours later, the buzz was no less subdued.
The director is not disturbed. While he is seated, with arms crossed, he sends a silent message behind his shielded eyes: "I am ready. Challenge me with your questions. I have all the information you need. I want to see how you can get it from me."
He sits attentively, listening to the questions from the expecting challenges from the media the same his actors gets from him.
Dubbed as a 'good challenger' by many actors in his films, Wong receives much praise from them.
"He is unbelievable," says Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, the 42-year-old Hong Kong actor, who has been acting in Wong's films ever since his earliest, Days of Being Wild, in 1990.
"He always knows how to tap into your potential. He poses a challenge and won't let you go until he brings out your best."
Wong Faye, a Beijing-born singer who is now one of the most popular pop singers in Asia, insists that she was not good at her lines, but she is among the most credited by the audience for her role in the film as a wordless anbroid in an imagined world.
"I could not achieve this without the director," admits the singer. "He knows so well how to help me, to build the mood for me to act."
After several rounds of questions from the media, which seemed not to interest him enough, the director sat back, lit a cigarette, and became kind of absent-minded.
What is he thinking about? Changes to the final copy? It is going to premiere in two days!
"He is always unpredictable," Leung says. "You can hardly expect to know what he is going to do tomorrow. He comes up with a new idea every day."
The idea of shooting 2046 came up almost at the same time Wong decided to shoot In the Mood for Love in 1999.
"2046 is 50 years after Hong Kong was returned to China. There have been promises that there will be no changes to Hong Kong's present policies and lifestyle, but there will, should, always be changes. How can you imagine there is no change 50 years from now? I thought it would be interesting to make a film out of the numeral to tell a story about change, and not to change," Wong says.
"Later, I found the number interestingly coincides with the hotel room number for Chow Mo-Wan (Leung) and Su Lizhen (Maggie Chang), in In the Mood for Love. I decided to make it a love story, relating to Chow's past, and its effect on him."
However, progress towards the film's completion had been continually thwarted. Every few months, Wong shut down production to wrap up another project. After shooting was finished, every member of the cast admitted they had no idea what kind of story 2046 was going to be.
"He is a scriptless director," Leung says. "You can hardly guess where a story leads to during the shooting; I bet, sometimes, he doesn't know either. But he does have a feeling of what he wants to shoot, which he would develop into a well-told story."
Leung has been awarded dozens of prizes for acting, mostly as Wong's protege, starring in Happy Together, Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, and In the Mood for Love. However, he does not flatter him.
"He is a torturer. He requests so much. There are always so many re-shootings," Leung says. "Shooting film is just like falling into a torrid love affair. You suffer anguish day after day, but you can't go without it."
Wong denies being a perfectionist, but admits he will not compromise when he directs.
"If I know an actor has 90 per cent of potential, I will never accept 88 per cent. I want 91!"
The attitude extends to editing.
"Many ask if I am satisfied with the present copy of 2046. I say 'yes,' at least for the moment, but I will not stop to change it if I am not."