Reel Asian’s Director of Programming & Education, Aram Collier, takes over the blog.
Watch “Echoes of the Rainbow”, as part of our Hong Kong Spirit Film Series, at AGO Jackman Hall on Saturday May 17 at 3:30pm.
Alex’s Law’s Echoes of the Rainbow is a beautiful film offering a nostalgic but melancholy look back at 1960’s Hong Kong which was such a different place than the “Asia’s World City” that we see today. So different in fact that much of the physical city that existed only 50 years ago is gone. Wong Kar Wai’s iconic film In The Mood For Love was set in 1960’s Hong Kong but was shot in Thailand and Macau because it was said the locations simply didn’t exist in Hong Kong anymore consider this the downside of rapid economic growth. And this isn’t a phenomenon limited to Hong Kong. When I was in Taipei for the Golden Horse Awards, Korean blockbuster director Choi DongHun (The Thieves) was location scouting Japanese colonial era buildings that could pass for 1930’s Korea because they similarly did not exist in his home country anymore (though a couple of wars will do that to old buildings).
While credit is due to the “movie magic” that filmmakers employ to evoke a time and place through these international workarounds, there’s something special about a real location that is what it is, a location that helps frame the story as only it can. Can you imagine Chungking Express without the Chungking mansions? And think of how great it is to watch a movie where Toronto is Toronto and not New York.
Though the dramatic family narrative in Echoes Of The Rainbow is paramount, another story that this film produced was of its iconic 1960’s location. Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan was one of the films primary locations. Scheduled for redevelopment, the street was saved because of the film’s success when it had the (unintended) consequence of launching a preservation campaign.
While this urban redevelopment story is not without complications it’s worth noting the sentiment this film tapped into in changing public opinion away from pure development and growth and towards remembering some small piece of Hong Kong’s past. To get you warmed up for Echoes Of The Rainbow check out images taken from Wing Lee Street.