In the Mood for Love...and for Angkor

Just 20 years after the release of Wong Kar-wai’s magical movie, revisiting its final scene set in Angkor Wat

Angkor Man Lim Chung 111

Published: April 2020

Living Cambodia Blog shared in April 2020 behind-the-scenes photos taken by Man Lim Chung (文念中), Art Director for the movie In The Mood for Love (花樣年華, Flowery Year’s, 2000) and the scenes shot in Angkor Wat in 1999, rare stills that have been circulating on the Web from March 2019 while their authot was never credited to the date. 

This was the start of an Angkor Database research of the specific Angkor Wat spots mentioned in the movie.

ADB Update May 2023

A follower from Hong Kong kindly pointed us to the essay Carla Marcantonio (then Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at George Mason University) published in Senses of Cinema (Issue 56, Oct 2010). 

Among many accurate insights, we’ll quote this one: The timeless is not a central theme in Wong Kar-wai’s work; in fact, his oeuvre is best known for its obsession with the contingent, the impermanent, the passing moment. As Rey Chow has noted, this sequence [in Angkor Wat, ADB] feels like the companion piece to those in Chun gwong cha sits (Happy Together, 1997) featuring the Iguazu Falls, suggesting a type of perseverance and endurance that far transcends the bounds of the human world”. But it also suggests that the structures of this film, the myriad passageways and interiors that we have seen Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen/Mrs Chang (Maggie Cheung) meander through, are as much the protagonists of this film as the characters. These spaces orchestrate Mr Chow and Mrs Chang’s meeting – first in the hallway that joins their adjacent apartments, and later on the narrow stairway leading to and from the noodle stand they both frequent. Encouraging a look back, the empty passageways of Angkor Wat remind us that the structures that organize the spaces that Mr Chow and Mrs Chang pass through are places that will, too, one day stand empty of the lives they once housed.”

Read Carla Marcantonio’s essay.

See Tewfic El-Sawys photographic essay, The Wasted Years (2021), inspired by In the Mood for Love atmosphere and characters.

Photo: Maggy Cheung and Tony Leung in Angkor (by Man Lim Chung)

(updated May 2023)

Tags: Chinese cinema, Buddhism, Charles de Gaulle, Vietnam War, movies