In the Mood for Love: Qipaos in Storytelling

By Rinto Fujimoto

Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love presents us with an impressive collection of qipaos which may remind some of us of a bygone era. The movie is set in 1962, based on the lives of the Shanghai diaspora of Hong Kong who fled from the terror of revolution present in mainland China at that time. It follows the peculiar relationship developed by two neighbours, Mr Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) who bond over the infidelity of their respective partners. The movie is beautifully shot with each scene having its own unique charm but inevitably, our eyes are drawn towards one element: Mrs Chan’s stunning qipaos.

In this article, I am going to explore the role played by qipaos in storytelling and share with you some photos of my favourite scenes.

 

Mrs Chow’s Emotions and Her Qipaos

The feelings that transpire the most from the main characters are melancholy and loneliness. It is somewhat ironic that despite seeing the two characters often surrounded by neighbours and co-workers, we feel as if there is a barrier separating them from the others. This feeling of isolation is beautifully captured by a scene in which Mrs Chan orders noodles at an eatery which she regularly frequents: her elegant qipao makes her seem out of place, in contrast with the grey and dim surroundings of the street eatery.

In fact, her wardrobe of more than 20 qipaos reveals more about her than the emotions she lets out: the floral patterns emphasize her vulnerability, the colour green her jealousy, red her love for Mr Chow …

 

Qipaos Throughout the Course of the Movie

Besides love, the passing of time is another central theme in the movie. Despite the apparent continuity between some scenes, Mrs Chan’s qipaos are often the only indicator that two similar scenes take place at different points in time and that their relationship evolves over several months. For example, she wears a charming light blue qipao with a daffodil pattern in one restaurant scene and a more elegant, black and white qipao with elegantly designed colour gradation in the following scene.

This repetition of similar scenes suggests that Mr Chow and Mrs Chan have, on several occasions, been out together. Yet, we feel a deep sense of frustration when we observe that despite the passing of time, they are unable to fall fully in love with each other. In fact, both characters are only able to express their feelings for each other through the re-enactment of their partners’ affairs, denying that they too are in love. As Mrs Chan puts it: “We will never be like them.”

 

One Frame, One Painting

In addition to the plot, the beauty of each shot is perhaps what makes In the Mood for Love such an exceptional movie. Critics have often noted the frequent use of a frame within a frame by Wong Kar Wai to add depth to his shots, and it is not uncommon to see a scene that is filmed through a window or a doorway. From the viewer’s perspective, this creates the feeling that we are examining a painting, with our sight fixated on one element: the qipao worn by Maggie Leung. Here, one particular scene that comes to my mind is the moment when Mrs Chan thoughtfully stares towards the camera in her daffodil qipao, surrounded on both sides by flowery curtains.

To me, the colours and composition of the scenes are reminiscent of an impressionist painting. The aesthetics of the movie might explain why so many people watched In the Mood for Love multiple times, as there are always more details to discover with each viewing.

Did this article arouse your curiosity? If you haven’t yet watched In the Mood for Love, here is the film’s trailer to give you an overview:

Also, if you felt inspired by Maggie Leung’s elegant style, you may want to check out our store at InteractChina.com! Here, we offer a large collection of handmade high-quality qipaos that will bring a touch of oriental elegance to your wardrobe.

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

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Top 3 Chinese Myths and Legendary Figures

Written by Francesca Zhu

The Myth of Sun WuKong

Sun WuKong, also known as the Monkey King, was born on the Mountains of Flowers and Fruits. He was powerful and with a rebellious trait, and one day, he went to the Heavens and caused havoc. The Gods were so angry with him that they tried to burn him but instead the fire made him even more powerful. The Gods then asked help to Buddha. Buddha punished the fearless Monkey King by suppressing him under the Mountain of Five Elements where he remained captive for five hundred years.

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After centuries, a monk named Tan Sen was on his journey to the West with an important duty, to bring Buddha’s sutras to the East. One day, he passed by the Mountain of Five Elements. He freed Sun WuKong on the pact that the Monkey King had to be his disciple and had to help him collect the sutras. As such, the Journey to the West proceeded, with other new discpiples; Zhu BaJie, Sha WuJing and Bai Long Ma; who would later join one by one protecting Tang Sen from the dangerous demons of the West.

The adventures of Tang Sen and his four disciples are a recurrent theme in the Chinese folk culture. They appear in a multitude of cinematographic productions, from Chinese cartoons, movies, TV series to American screens.

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Sun WuKong is probably the most popular character in the story; known for his power, braveness, repentance for his past and the willingness to become a better person under Tan Sen’s guidance. He is also featured in one of the most popular Japanese Anime that everyone knows about… that’s right, he is the undefeatable Goku in Dragon Ball. The synopsis of the anime is different from the Chinese myth but the character of Goku is indeed based on the story of Sun WuKong.

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The Myth of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl

The story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is a romantic one, on which the Chinese Valentine’s Day is based. It is said that the Weaver Girl was one of the seven angels that came from the Heaven to visit the Earth. During the journey, she met the Cowherd, a poor kind-hearted man, and the two fell in love with each other. The Weaver Girl stayed with the Cowherd on the Earth, they got married and had a boy and a girl. One day, the Mother Queen of Heaven came to know about the Weaver Girl and strongly disapproved the love between the two. She brought the Weaver Girl back to Heaven while the Cowherd chased after her. When he was almost reaching his wife, the Mother Queen used her magic hairpin to create a river separating the lovers. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl cried so much for losing each other that the Mother Queen was moved. She still didn’t allow the lovers to stay together but she allowed them to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when a flock of magpies will form a bridge crossing the river letting the Cowherd, the Weaver Girl and the children to reunite.

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This day is also called Qixi in the Chinese culture, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, when young people appreciate the night sky with their loved ones. In fact, the Weaver Girl represents the star Altair, the Cowherd Vega and the river separating the two the Milky Way.

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The Myth of Chang E and Hou Yi

Once upon time, there were ten suns. It was so hot that all plants were burnt and people suffered drought. Hou Yi was an excellent archer, he took his arch and bow and shoot down nine suns only leaving one to provide light to people. Having saved the Earth, he was admired as a hero and many went to him to learn archery. To praise his bravery, the Gods gave him the elixir of immortality. Although Hou Yi wanted to become immortal, he was happily married with Chang E and didn’t want to be immortal without her, as the elixir was only enough for one person. So he just kept the elixir home.

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One day, a greedy scholar of Hou Yi decided to steal the elixir. He broke into the house where only Chang E was there. He forced her to give him the elixir and Chang E, not knowing how to fight him, drank the elixir herself. She immediately became an immortal and flew to the Moon. When Hou Yi was back, he was heartbroken. He laid out his wife’s favourite fruits and cakes in the yard as offerings to her. His neighbours did the same and soon it became an annual tradition. Today, we still pass on this tradition on Mid-Autumn Festival, when we paint and light on lanterns and make and eat mooncakes, remembering the tragic story of the Chang E and Hou Yi.

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Do you know any more Chinese Myths? If so, don’t hesitate to share them with us!

 

 

 


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!