Sonic Secrets as Counter-Surveillance in Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love

Chih-ting Chen

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter, the author applies an auditory approach—still a relatively understudied aspect of cinema studies—to Wong Kar-wai, an extensively studied auteur. The chapter expresses that In the Mood for Love shows sonic secrets buried, circulated, and listened to as musical counter-surveillance, which stakes out a sonic territory of privacy and intimacy while escaping the invasive Shanghainese eyes and ears in 1960s Hong Kong. The chapter also focuses on the secret messages hidden in Mr. Chan's potentially poisonous musical gift "Huayang de Nianhua" for his wife Su Li-zhen. Wong Kar-wai's strategies such as "aural occlusion" and "musical masking" paradoxically help us to enjoy his sensuous cinema without the taxing impediment of subtitles. The reception of sonic secrets as counter-surveillance buried in the unsubtitled "Huayang de Nianhua" in In the Mood for Love, or for that matter "Casta diva" in 2046, thus lies in the repeated listening, viewing, and researching of the films that reward such intertextual knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSurveillance in Asian Cinema
Subtitle of host publicationUnder Eastern Eyes
EditorsKaren Fang
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781315647708
ISBN (Print)9781138125148, 9780367875381
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2017


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