The Postmetropolis and Mental Life: Wong Kar Wai’s Cinematic Hong Kong

Christoph Lindner in The New Blackwell Companion to the City, ed. G. Bridge and S. Watson, 2nd edn. (Blackwell 2011), 327-336.

FA Hong Kong

This chapter is about visual culture and the urban environment. It is also about globalization and violence. Engaging with these issues as they relate to cinematic Hong Kong, my focus is Wong Kar-Wai’s 1995 film Fallen Angels, a mood study of urban emptiness and disconnection set in pre-handover Hong Kong and centered on an emotionally detached hit-man and his desensitized female agent. In particular, my discussion of the film considers some of the ways in which Georg Simmel’s notion of a “metropolitan attitude,”which he associates with the rise of the modern metropolis in the late nineteenth century, can be reconfigured in the context of the global city. I begin, therefore, by revisiting Simmel’s classic essay of 1903, “The metropolis and mental life,” before recalibrating Simmel’s thinking in light of contemporary urbanism and, in particular, Edward Soja’s work on the phenomenon of the postmetropolis.

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