Wong Kar-wai’s Ashes of Time


Wimal Dissanayake

ISBN : 978-962-209-585-4

Film, Media, Fine Arts The New Hong Kong Cinema

June 2003

196 pages, 5.5″ x 7.5″, 8 color illustrations

  • HK$195.00

Also available in Hardback HK$450.00

Ashes of Time, by the internationally acclaimed director Wong Kar-wai, has been considered to be one of the most complex and self-reflexive of Hong Kong films. Loosely based on the stories by renowned martial arts novelist Jin Yong, Wong Kar-wai has created a very different kind of martial arts film, which invites close and sustained study.This book presents the nature and significance of Ashes of Time, and the reasons for its being regarded as a landmark in Hong Kong cinema. Placing the film in historical and cultural context, Dissanayake discusses its vision, imagery, visual style, and narrative structure. In particular, he focuses on the themes of mourning, confession, fantasy, and kung fu movies, which enable the reader to gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the film.

Wimal Dissanayake is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Hong Kong and also teaches at the University of Hawaii. A leading scholar of Asian cinema, his most recent work is New Chinese Cinema (with Kwok-kan Tam). He is also the founding editor of East-West Film Journal.

“Carefully researched and lucidly written, this study of Ashes of Time shows its uncanny engagement with the leftist melancholy of the postcolonial present. It suggests how the discrepant temporal-spatial registers and optical pyrotechnics of Wong Kar-wai’s films now and again deal not only with specific Hong Kong anxieties of the handover, but the larger poetics of globalization.” —Rob Wilson, Professor of Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz

“A significant contribution to the field of Hong Kong film studies. Dissanayake examines the preoccupations with time, space and other stylistic traits that we have come to identify with Wong Kar-wai: the use of voice-overs, the fragmented style of his narratives, the psychological depth of his characters. The book is well-researched and convincingly argued.” —Stephen Teo, author of Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions

“This book fills a long-felt need for specific analyses of films by important directors like Wong Kar-wai.” —E. Ann Kaplan, Professor of English and Comparative Studies, SUNY Stony Brook, and author of Women in Film Noir