Monday, October 19, 2009

Screengrab - MM by HHH

To my mind, the most beautiful opening sequence of the past decade is in Hou Hsiao Hsien's Milllennium Mambo (2001). A single, elegant, weightless tracking shot follows the lovely Shu Qi as she crosses a pedestrian bridge over a road at night, and in doing so sets the tone for the entirety of the film. A ghostly blue grey light fills the screen. Dance music is a distant, unconscious pulse on the soundtrack. Her narration is whispered, and it tells us the film's "story" and even suggests a theme in a few simple sentences:

"She broke up with Hao Hao, but he always tracked her down. Called her, begged her to come back. Again and Again. As if under a spell, or hypnotized, she couldn't escape. She always came back. She told herself that she had NT$500,000 in the bank. When she had used it up, she would leave him. This happened ten years ago, in the year 2001. The world was greeting the 21st century and celebrating the new millennium."

She is smoking as she walks, and her extravagant hair, shining black under the halogen glow, bounces with the youthful exuberance of her stride. She looks around and behind her often. She appears to laugh. At the end, she hops down the steps and away from the camera like an excited child. Cue title.

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Blogger Rick said...

I love it and your comments say it all. It does have great mood and the music/lighting really add to it! I have heard of this film and it is on my massive list to see at some point. So many great scenes out there and so little time.;)

12:57 pm  

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