Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai is renowned for his use of movement, silent action, lingering glances and slow motion action in his films, making them rather universal in terms of language. Romance, neo-futurism and a remembrance of things past are some of his signatures from his early works till today. But few have managed to master the art of working with him, particularly with his organic style of directing.
In a throwback to one of his most important works, NOWNESS showcased an audiovisual essay by Rowena Santos Aquino focusing on the use of movement and dance in his films, and the key to this was a deleted scene from Wong’s In the Mood for Love, where Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are shot dancing. It’s not the dance moves that are significant, rather than the intimacy and nuances that are conveyed. It’s the first 46 seconds of the film. (The music in the video is different from the original, which is shown below.)
In a recent interview with four local filmmakers in Singapore, they discussed the use of action rather than words in the medium. Eysham Ali and Sanif Olek spoke about how they believed action drove the movie forward with the choices made in a film, rather than dialogue. It’s something that Tony Leung explains can be a difficult experience for an actor as well in a short interview in the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film, where the deleted dancing scene is shown as bonus content.
He explains, “Every scene was ‘heavy’. For an actor, this is difficult. Working every day under tense emotions… a lot of the things in the film can’t be spoken.” It’s exactly in the looks the actors exchange, that momentary glance, that slight imperfection in the hairdo that add to the realism and make the move more relatable. See the clip here.