Absence and Presence and the Disintegration of the Space-Time Continuum in Kar Wai’s (2006) In the Mood for Love
Kar Wai (2000) uses sound to demonstrate that the absence of the actual faces of the spouses engaged in the affair ironically highlights the presence of their affair and how it ruins their marriage. He does not show what these spouses look like at all, and instead, he uses sound to describe who they are as individuals and as spouses. As individuals, Mr. Chan and Mrs. Chow are always physically separated from their spouses. The first time that the audience sees Mrs. Chow is when she is running hastily across the stairs, while Mrs. Chan is walking on an opposite direction. The sounds of their footsteps sound hollow in the Byzantine stairway. These steps have the tone of loneliness in their singleness. Mrs. Chow is not with Mr. Chow, so there is already a foreshadowing that she will never be actually with her husband as a wife. Lee (2008) argued that invisibility on the film represents the presence of something else that is more important. She cites Brunette (2005) who talked about “formidable absent preferences” (p.89) in the film and Brofen (1992) who said that the uncanny is shown as mobile because it is a “situation of undecidability… the uncanny in some sense always involves the question of visibility/invisibility, presence to/absence from sight”.Sound is used to suggest the full meaning of the absence of characters in the film.
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