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"Déjà Disparu" and Deleuzian time-image : Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster (2013)

English Abstract

Films are cultural artifacts of social relevance. Like dreams and fictions, they may be likened to a type of perplexing “rebus” that articulates the cultural mentality and social mutation of a space and a time. They may be interweaved with the “desires and fears” of a place and a people, thereby underscoring the interactivity of films, culture and society. In this thesis, this understanding guides my study of Wong Kar-wai’s films with particular reference to The Grandmaster (2013). The study will primarily be informed by Ackbar Abbas’s theory of déjà disparu and Gilles Deleuze’s movement-image and time-image. According to Abbas, in response to the combined forces of colonialism, globalization and the 1997 Handover, Hong Kong has developed a culture of “déjà disparu”, aiming to capture a Hong Kong that is always in the process of mutation and disappearance. Hong Kong cinema thus adopted techniques of disappearance and ambivalence to deal with such an imminent disappearance. Deleuze, on the other hand, develops his analytical framework through the study of cinema in more general terms and in more expansive ways. He focuses on the “movement-image” and “time-image” of film. Dominating the pre-war classic cinema, the former represents the float of movements, with the “sensory motor schema” linking “perception image” and “action image”. While the latter, more noticeable in the post-war cinema, features the “direct representation of time” through the “op-son images”, “recollection images” and “fantasy images”.

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Zhang, Xiao Yi


Faculty of Social Sciences


Department of Communication




Wong, Kar-wai, -- 1958- -- Grandmaster

Deleuze, Gilles, -- 1925-1995

Motion pictures -- Philosophy


Tan, See Kam

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