Memory in the Films of Wong Kar-wai

by Jorge A. Delgadillo


The following paper explores the relationship between Wong Kar-wai’s films and memory. In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and 2046 all portray a picture of Hong Kong that dwells on the past. It is this past where the citizens of Hong Kong, and thus the characters in Wong Kar Wai’s films, are able to find a collective memory. Wong Kar-wai’s films present a postmodern landscape that rests on this idea of Hong Kong that only existed briefly, in passing; they are a document of the frenetic society that was never a part of either of its two rulers— a society that is now gone and only lives in memory. The following is a collection of passages, documents, and artifacts that will appear in random order. This is meant to evoke how we generally access memory nonlinearly, as well as the fragmentation present in Wong Kar-wai’s films.


Jorge A. Delgadillo is a first-year M.A. graduate student in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. Jorge completed two B.A.’s in History and Film Studies, with a minor in English at the University of California, Davis. Before coming to SFSU, he was a middle school teacher for four and half years in the Sacramento area, where he integrated cinema into his classes. His academic interests include materiality, genre, particularly horror, as well as feminist criticism in popular cinema, a number of international cinemas. Amongst his favorite filmmakers are Paul Thomas Anderson, Claire Denis, and Wong Kar Wai