2046: Trip to Memory Lane


photo from IMDB

When we lose something important, or maybe even someone important that has already been a part of our lives, the only thing that makes us whole without them are memories. Sometimes, when we can’t feel the touch of their hands or hear the sound of their laughter anymore, the only thing we could do is to dream about them.

Imagine how the warmth in their palms could be so electric beneath our own skin…imagine how they would babble face to face with us only to execute a fail punch line. Those good old memories just make us want to be back to where we have been in the past years…or even our past lives.

However, memories are just not as clear as reality. Memories are meant to fade. It changes in a flash. It is nostalgic yet devastating and sometimes, what hurts the most is not the loss that we had but the memories we remembered.

Technical Analysis

In the acclaimed 2046, a Chinese film directed by Wong Kar Wai, the protagonist Mr. Chow Mo-Wan is a tormented writer who is haunted by his past love that turns him into a notorious womanizer. He created a place named 2046 wherein a train would take you some place where you recount the past.

It’s like a trip to memory lane where you travel down a dimension of faint and distorted colors, mostly of red and orange light that means to me, passion and longing. At first glance, the movie could be so weird because of how unconventional it was made. The twist and turns, lyricism combined with narrative, and the extraordinary shots–sometimes slow and sometimes very close; the intense soundtrack, the remarkable dialogues, and the abrupt transitions…all of these contributed to the great aesthetic value of the film.

Even though it was extraordinary, the whole package of it being a sci-fi film and the troubled life of Mr. Chow, I would say, it’s realistic. After all, the reality is always stranger than fiction.

Dramatic World

The film carried real life ideologies especially about the human nature, a person’s desire and defense mechanism of messing up after a painful heartbreak. I’m not saying it’s a romantic film but it is a drama, something heavier than romance.

When we try to reunite back with our past, we close our eyes and imagine things. Or even as they were opened, memories would come flooding at the back of our minds, with flashing lights, static sounds, and fragments skipping at the beat of our hearts as if we’re looking through a kaleidoscope.

The colors change every time, sometimes we don’t remember what was next or what would be next to that but we are glad as long as we remember them. That’s how things work in our heads when we relive our memories. And that’s also how I see every scene and every shot in the movie.

Shots were fragmented, they don’t tell a concrete story at once. It’s not linear, it changes every time and skips until we remember something else. So I guess as an audience, we are put into Mr.Chow’s head or perspective.

Film Theory

Some repeated shots, like motifs, could mean that they are the only clear memory in the vagueness of his thoughts, like those shots of women alone at a rooftop. There’s just a lot of women in it that makes me think it is a sexist film.

Although it was understandable since the protagonist is a man and its part of their nature to be co-dependent with women. Bai Ling the sophisticated prostitute, Jing the daughter of the Hotel owner, Lulu and the android…they were somewhat treated as objects of desire, though different people, different strokes.

As a feminist, I didn’t like how they were portrayed and objectified. But I can’t deny that’s how reality comes to play in romance. Some people just come and go. Just like what Mr. Chow said in one of his remarkable dialogues, “love is all a matter of timing.”


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