Flânerie and acrophilia in the postmetropolis: Rooftops in Hong Kong cinema

Yiu Fai CHOW, Jeroen Kloet De

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Living in the spectacle of Hong Kong's skyscape, how often do its dwellers actually see, not to mention reach, its rooftops? Intriguingly, despite their apparent ephemerality and inaccessibility, the vertical fringes of the city feature frequently in Hong Kong cinema: the rooftop. In this article, we connect the cinematic trope of the rooftop to the anxiety of living in a postmetropolitan city like Hong Kong. We do so by walking with Georg Simmel's blasé attitude and Benjamin's flânerie in the metropolitan city, to meet Christoph Lindner's more (self-)destructive blasé individual trying to grapple with his postmetropolitan anxiety. Finally, we posit to understand the deployment of rooftops in Hong Kong cinema - in the crime thriller Infernal Affairs, the coming-of-age drama High Noon and the psychological horror Inner Senses - as a way out, literally and figuratively, a space where one negotiates and perhaps overcomes a blasé postmetropolitan individuality with moments of radical reconnection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-155
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chinese Cinemas
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

User-Defined Keywords

  • High Noon
  • Hong Kong
  • Infernal Affairs
  • Inner Senses
  • Postmetropolitan
  • Rooftops


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