Wong Kar-wai’s Films and the Culture of the Kawaii


Since 1988, the year of the release of As Tears Go By, many academic texts have been written about Wong Kar-wai and his films. Among the themes dealt with are 1) Wong’s emergence from the Hong Kong cinema scene and the exceptional status he enjoys within that scene; and 2) the similarities between Wong and an extremely wide range of Western directors. The twofold concentration on Wong’s Hong Kong origins on the one hand, and his compatibility with Western cinema on the other, can be explained through Wong’s almost unique ability to make films that appear to be equally Chinese and Western, or equally local and global. However, in my opinion, any limitation of analysis to a dialectics of Eastern and Western elements runs the risk of bypassing by the real sources of Wong’s oeuvre. I am not aware of a single study that attempts to integrate Wong in the wide, though limited, cultural sphere of modern or post-modern East Asia.

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