In the Mood for Love’s original Chinese title meant “the age of blossoms” or “the flowery years”, and although I’m very glad Wong Kar-Wai later changed it in reference to the classic Bryan Ferry song, the film does abound with floral motifs in almost every scene. Most often it is found in the patterns on Maggie Cheung’s form fitting, Shanghai style dresses. The flowers climb her long, graceful limbs and often times contrast greatly to the dark city streets and confined offices and apartments of early 1960s Hong Kong, the setting for the film. Kar-wai said, “we had 20-25 dresses for Maggie for the whole film. Because we cut the film short, it becomes like a fashion show; she changes all the time.” The use of flowers, as well as contrasting patterns on wallpapers and backgrounds, creates an almost dark, period piece, fairytale-like setting. This is after all a love-story that can never happen…an almost anti-fairytale of sorts, where the prince will never get the princess, as much as we wish he can.
Below are a few of my favorite images that feel influenced by In the Mood for Love. They capture a similar tone with their use of patterns, saturation, and floral composition and I find them smashing!