Chinese Odyssey II: Cinderella Essay
The film A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella (1994) is a fantasy-driven story, starring Stephen Chow and directed by Jeff Lau. Through the film’s plot, several elements help the audience to comprehend the story and characters’ development. A Chinese Odyssey Part Two demonstrates different cinematic aspects that contribute to the nature of each character, and functions as a guide to the story’s emotional rollercoaster.
Through lighting, the self discovery of the characters progress from the beginning, the middle, and the end. This creates a chronological narrative so that the viewers can understand the plot. Director Jeff Lau uses the element of light and framing to guide the viewers to understand the story, through the development of angles and photographic techniques. This paper will unravel various factors of cinematography, concentrating on lighting, framing, angles and photography.
The film was shot in Xi’an Film Studios, making the film to have a stylized and more visually exaggerated appeal. This also allowed the director to have more controlled lighting around the scenes and facial expressions of characters in the film. Lau used a well known star Stephen Chow to play the role of Joker, the protagonist.
Chow’s character was used to symbolize romance making the film to be a love story. The audience is made to believe that the story is authentic in order to relate with characters in the story. Joker’s (Chow) cause is to save his lover (Zixia), the cause is based on love, the romantic aspect masks over the storyline so that the viewers can relate with the story.
Joker sacrifices himself to become a monkey king in order to save the love of his life. He also sacrifices his love by ignoring Zixia for a better ending. Joker and Zixia are used by the director to show that pain is an inherent aspect of human love.
Lau succeeds to show the agony associated with strong human desires. Lighting technique is used in adventure and action films to form artificial scenes. It is used to highlight exaggerated actions associated with these genres of films. An intense contrast is created between light and dark, making incredibly mysterious shots.
In production of A Chinese Odyssey Part Two, an essential component was the cinematography. The cinematographer’s duty was to merge essentials including velocity of movement, perspective and framing to capture the attention of the audience. These aspects aid the audience to understand the message being communicated by the film. These elements were also applied to highlight the importance of the protagonist and other support characters in the film.
The lighting technique evokes curiosity in viewers, and plays a significant role in determining how the story is told. The movie takes on a transition from light to dark and clarity to complexity so that the viewer is visually engaged in the story.
The changes in light intensity add to the dramatic tension of the plot. The film commenced with low key lighting, allowing the audience to connect with the characters. Lighting was used to make the shadows on the faces and highlight the emotional expressions. This continues through dramatic peaks in the film.
A scene that is memorable to the audience takes place when a flying demon kills humans by taking their breath in a desert. Joker is somehow aware of the demon and is able to avoid him. The scene is characterized by tension but is also scary and funny. The lighting changes to an optimistic radiant canvas when two characters kiss, making the audience aware this was, without a doubt, the happiest moment of their lives.
When Joker meets Zixia’s his facial expression depicts concealed love emotions. The contrast of light changes from brightness to darkness when the monkey king causes a commotion in the atmosphere. Joker’s face is at a high contrast, which makes his face to appear white. This draws the audiences’ attention to his facial expression, which depicts his emotions.
In a scene where Joker is expressing his love to Zixia, the picture takes on a very active role. There are few actions going on so that the viewer is aware that there is an important message being communicated. The director Lau used low key lighting for the actors and a strong backlight so that the background for the scene was as significant as the foreground.
The backlights created a strong depth of field and made the scene to appear natural. Low key light gave a strong sense of cinematic space, making the area sparse and calm. The light added to the creation of a large depth of field where different elements were visible including the crowd of people. All elements worked simultaneously, making the scene very natural with a strong tonal range of atmospheric quality.
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two’s core is based on romantic feeling of wasted love, and the longing to express the inner feelings. Being familiar with the emotions of the characters guides the viewer to connect with the characters effectively. Lighting has been used to allow the audiences to familiarize with the character’s emotions.
This is seen in several scenes where the director uses gauze filters, when during close-up shots, two-shots and medium shots of Joker and Zixia. The director uses harsh contrasting lights to create the illusion of an unnatural environment. This is clearly seen in a scene where a demon attacks and kills humans.
Lighting was not the only factor that contributed to the success of this film. Framing of character s was essential to maintain fluidity within the story. The mood of the film relied heavily on the framing of the characters, either addressing personal confrontation between two characters, or large crowds of people. The main characters’ angle-shots and framing shows the relationship between characters as well as their atmospheric environment.
Joker’s emotions are a key factor to understanding his side of the story. He is constantly framed with close-up shots so that his point of view is evident from his facial expressions. Lau uses catch lights on character’s face, creating a delicate haze of softened light, making them appear natural and pure.
This technique allows the audience to witness his most vulnerable state, with his face glistening in the light and his face glowing with ghostly or monkey look. This technique leans towards a realistic fantasy of histrionic expression. The character’s looks, attitude, personality and interactions are all linked together to form a love story, and to convey the necessary message.
As the plot progressed, the technique of lighting and the framing also progressed. The story between Joker and Zixia is highly dramatic; the angles shift points of view relentlessly, the shift continues back and forth so frequently, they become a chain of reverse-angle shots. This is used to emphasize the dialogue between characters so the audience familiarizes with the story.
The chronology of the plot relied heavily on the cinematographer’s decision on what is appropriate for the storyline. Lau used spotlights that remain in scenes throughout the movie; the audience is aware that the characters are always being watched. Also, the relationship between the spotlight and the shadows adds another layer of visual complexity, and is a continuous theme throughout the film.
This continues until the end where the audience is aware of the characters’ fate, making the final moments of the film vague and diminishable. The director guides the audience to striking scenes using the spotlights; these have high intensity, high selectivity and focus.
The angle of shots plays a significant role in how A Chinese Odyssey Part Two’s story is told. The film triggers the emotional melodramatic connect with the audience, therefore, low-angle shots were used most of the time. Low angle shots were applied to cause fear on part of the audience. They were used in scenes with a lot of actions to portray heroism in some characters.
By examining the cinematography aspects of A Chinese Odyssey Part Two, the intention of the story being told becomes evident. The audience is aware of what is happening to the characters without being told. The performance of the actors becomes more significant to the purpose of the scenes. All aspects of highlights and lowlights draw attention to what the film is trying to communicate.
The scenes have the ability to move the audience with love and dramatic undertone; the story becomes part of their lives, and they relive the experience in the melodramatic film. As viewers need to believe that they can relate to the story telling, that they can become part of the story and relive it by watching the characters go through their emotions.
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two touched all aspects of romantic film. The emotional engagement of the storyline was heightened through the cinematographic elements making A Chinese Odyssey Part Two a moving and compelling story.
In a memorable romantic scene, Joker and his girlfriend are standing on top of a cliff; they are said to have been there for three days. The crowd watch them listening to their conversation. Joker tells her that he was there to leave some memory but the woman responds that she needed him and not his memories.
She promises to let him go after kissing. When they are about to kiss, the director uses the lighting to highlight their faces, the face of the monkey king and the expressions on the faces of the crowd. The monkey king blows into the air to cause a whirl of wind that confuses the entire crowd.
Lighting increases and the video changes gradually in contrast until the characters cannot be clearly seen. After the commotion, a romantic song can be heard in the background as Joker approaches the girl; he grabs her and kisses her. As they continue to hug each other, lighting is used again to show a flashback, the scene is old, and probably from the first part of the movie, the Pandora’s Box. As the crowd continues to cheer, Joker shouts “I love you” hilariously.
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella is one of Lau’s masterpieces and is the epitome of Asian cinema production. The storyline continues from the part one of the film, Pandora’s Box, which ends after the protagonist is teleported five centuries back. Although he is desperate to go back to the future, he falls in love again; this complicates his situation. Eventually, Joker learns how to fall in love, to lose someone he loves and finally to fulfill his purpose as a monkey king.
The movie is not only funny but emotional; these aspects have been achieved using cinematographic elements, most importantly, lighting. The film is characterized by hilarious scenes with parody moments made to capture the attention of the audience. Funny moments have been professionally articulated; for instance, the scene where there is a demon is meant to be funny.
Lighting has been used to characterize the momentous actions in this film. The end is highlighted by a final battle which is, by all means, a fantasy delight. The monkey king is particularly in his complete regalia and fights hard to give the film a good ending.
The final scene is one of the main reasons why the film is a success. It is quiet, arguably, to show the end of the battle and when things are made right and rearranged. The scene gives the film an emotional feeling that is the characteristic of the whole story. The lessons are communicated to the audience; the film teaches how to discover our self and it is possible to sacrifice for our beliefs.
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