In the mood for travel: mobility, gender and nostalgia in Wong Kar-wai’s cinematic Hong Kong

Lei, Chin Pang (2012) In the mood for travel: mobility, gender and nostalgia in Wong Kar-wai’s cinematic Hong Kong. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The director Wong Kar-wai has been widely recognized as a key figure in contemporary
Hong Kong cinema. His films have been seen through a number of critical lenses: as
auteurist artworks (Brunette, 2005); as creative popular cinema (Bordwell, 2000); as highly
political texts responding directly to the 1997 handover (Stokes and Hoover, 1999). Rather
than focusing on an aesthetic, technical or political (in a narrow sense) interpretation, this
thesis, using the approach of textual and contextual analysis, seeks to bring Wong’s films
into dialogue with contemporary cultural theories about the nature of space, mobility,
gender and nostalgia. In this way I hope both to re-position the films within the cultural
context to which and of which they speak, and to show the ways in which they also speak
to contemporary cultural concerns which far exceed it. Thus my argument is that these are
globally significant films because of the paradigmatic nature of the specific Hong Kong
culture which they explore, a culture which embodies in heightened form characteristics
seen as typifying modern urban experience. In light of Bhabha’s theories of post-colonial
culture (1994), Abbas’ suggestion of Hong Kong culture as indefinable “postculture”
(1997), and Rey Chow’s analysis of Hong Kong’s post-colonial self-writing (1998), this
thesis seeks to show how a marginal culture not only survives, but also creates a speaking
position for today’s global culture through Wong’s cinema. The thesis is structured around
three major themes, those of mobility, gender construction and nostalgia, all of which are
both regionally specific concerns and global issues. Today, we see the dual trends of
nationalism and globalization; the former brings exclusivity and the latter brings
homogeneity. Wong’s films displays the creativity of Hong Kong’s post-colonial culture,
whose hybridity and ambivalence defy these conservative trends and shed light on the
future of global culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures > PN1993.5 By region or country, A-Z > PN1993.5.H6 Hong Kong
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2012 08:39
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 15:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/40942

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