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Cinematography Techniques in “A City of Sadness”

Cinematography Techniques in “A City of Sadness”

Cinematography is the art of photography and visual storytelling in movies. It includes all on-screen visual elements, including lighting, framing, composition, camera motion, camera angles, film selection, lens choices, depth of field, zoom, focus, color, exposure, and filtration. Cinematography sets and supports the overall look and mood of a film’s visual narrative.

The following YouTube video entitled, “Composition + Framing – Storytelling with Cinematography,” made by DSLRguide, gives a great introduction on how filmmakers can use composition and framing to get across complex emotions and ideas:

Composition + Framing – Storytelling with Cinematography (链接到外部网站。)

In fact, their entire series of Storytelling with Cinematography that includes 3 other videos are pretty good to watch if you want to learn more about the art of cinematography:

Part 2: Lighting: (链接到外部网站。)Part 3 – Lenses: (链接到外部网站。)Part 4: Movement: (链接到外部网站。)

In this assignment, please focus on the movie A City of Sadness, which is still available to watch till the due date:

Link to watch A City of Sadness (链接到外部网站。)

What cinematography techniques are used in this movie? Discuss at least 3 cinematography techniques from this page (链接到外部网站。), and use specific scenes (please indicate the time range of each scene, e.g. 1:29:45-1:32:37) to illustrate the effects that the filmmaker has achieved through the use of these cinematography techniques. More specifically, the filmmaker, Hou Hsiao-hsien, is famous for his long shots, long takes, and stationery camera. What kind of implicit meaning is he trying to get across through these cinematography techniques?

Your analysis should be at least 250 words or one double-spaced page in length.

A City of Sadness Summary

This vastly ambitious drama about political strife in Taiwan distills a crucial historical period—from the island’s liberation from Japan, in 1945, to the Communist takeover of China, in 1949—into crystalline sketches. The director, Hou Hsiao-hsien, builds his film around a single episode—the killing, in 1947, by the ruling Nationalists, of tens of thousands of their political opponents—which he tells through the story of Wen-ching (Tony Leung), a deaf-mute portrait photographer, whose silent lucidity is an ironic critique of the post-liberation linguistic wars, which mirror Taiwan’s civil conflict. (The movie pointedly features dialogue in Japanese as well as in a plethora of Chinese dialects.) Meanwhile, Wen-ching’s two brothers fall afoul of gangsters, newly arrived from the mainland, who unduly influence the government. Hou’s extraordinarily controlled and well-constructed long takes blend revelation and opacity; his favorite trope is to shoot through doorways, as if straining to capture the action over impassable spans of time. The movie conveys the director’s intensely personal struggle at the crossroads of large-scale history and private memory; with understatedly bitter irony, he depicts the birth of a nation at the price of a family’s dissolution. Released in 1989.