The term “national cinema”, although it is widely used by critics and film theories alike, isn’t well understood. It is also not clear what the characteristics are and how they are communicated. I believe that national cinema is reflected in films associated to a particular nation-state. I have demonstrated this by comparing two distinct national films, Ida (Poland) and Chungking Express (Hong Kong). In these films, stylistic choices can show national cinema in different ways. This four-movie style can help us understand the cinematic characteristics of Polish cinema and Hong Kong’s cinema. It is possible to compare their cinematic styles with those of Hong Kong. This essay will explore the similarities and differences between four scenes from Chungking Express (00.45-02.47) and Ida’s back-to-convent scene (56.54-58.04), which reflect unique characteristics of national cinema. First, mises-en-scene is an integral part of expressing national cinematic styles. Chungking Express and Ida have created a stunning mise-en-scene. The Ida scene conveys the standardization and stylization of Polish film school. It features the Polish national identity. It is set within a cathedral that has a large dome. The environment allows few artificial intervention to make it as real as possible. The convent is not equipped with props. This is Polish cinema’s minimalist realism. Given the proximity of Catholicism and nationalism in Poland, the divine cathedral is both period-accurate. Chungking Express scene develops in a relatively artificial environment where aggressive “shoulder-to-shoulder” gestures take place between the people of different races in chaotic and vibrant streets. This scene is reminiscent of Hong Kong cinema and the bustle of Hong Kong’s daily life. Ida, like the other nuns, has uniformed make-up and costumes. Brigitte Lin is strong and bold with her make-up. Brigitte is seen wearing a red-framed black raincoat, a blonde hairstyle and a red-wig. These elements are symbolic of her confusion about her cultural identity and her attempt to be more westernized. This image is representative of Hong Kong’s handover period to illustrate the confusion around the city’s ideological and cultural identity (Hu 2006). The nuns are given a peaceful aura and natural light through soft lighting. To amplify the movement of Brigitte or cop 223 in the claustrophobic crowd with harsh lighting, Low-key lighting is used in both sequences to create dramatic moods and to sculpt the characters. This shows that both Polish and Hong Kong cinemas place great importance on creating tension and plots. It is evident that both Polish and Hong Kong cinemas use colour to great effect. Chungking Express’s opening scene is filled with bright colour, particularly red, blue, or green. It conveys the themes of loss, want, and comfort. Ida, on the other hand, is a black-and white film that more closely reflects that period. Chungking Express and Ida have very distinct cinematography. This allows them to express both Polish and Hong Kong cinematography. The standard ratio used in Polish cinema is 1.37 to 1. Chungking Express’s aspect ratio is 1.66 to 1 frame. This impressively behaved Hong Kong cinematographer creates widescreen effects. Ida’s day in the convent comes out of a straight-on angle. Locked-down frames run parallel to the horizon. This allows for calm, meditative techniques without using a handheld camera. Chungking express makes use handheld camera because it allows for fast and unsteady travels. Canted framing Unbalance Cop 223 and the peoples behind to represent chaos and urban alienation Hong Kong. Ida is effectively isolated from the rest of the sequence by using long shots and negative space. Ida’s movements are highlighted and shaped by the offscreen space. This is in keeping with the Polish cinema’s trend to encourage individualism rather than collectivism (Bill 2015. Ida, the Polish film school movement’s iconic composition, exemplifies Polish cinema through its unique manipulation techniques and film-discipline understanding. Chungking Express, on the other hand, uses a tracking shot to follow an actor’s movements. Correct framing is key to creating more curiosity in the viewers. Step printing, a special effect in cinematography that Chungking Express has created, is a highlight. The scene was made at a slower frame rate thanks to undercranking and slow motion. This creates the illusion of jerky movements when cop 223 chases in the street. Because of the blurred appearance, it is difficult to distinguish individual faces. Instead, viewers are encouraged to view the crowd as one entity. This is to show the insecurity and isolation that can be found in a large, undistinguishable megacity. The characters will make viewers feel disoriented, claustrophobic, as well as relate to them. This is Hong Kong cinema’s ultimate goal: to entertain and comfort exhausted Hong Kongers through the chaotic film environment, and then give them a sense that they are part of something. Thirdly, we should mention how these films show the subtly national style of editing. Both films have a shutter angle of 180 degrees, which provides continuity to their stories. Chungking express employs a non-linear editing method that is disruptive. It fits in well with Hong Kong’s “neo”. It is interesting to see the opening scene, where Chungking express beautifully juxtaposes shots from busy streets with cross-cutting of main characters. The effect of cross-cutting creates a strange and disorienting effect that leaves audiences unable to connect the characters with the events. This sequence is almost like a Hong Kong New Wave movie (Hu 2006). It successfully conveys a type of distortion, intertwist to disorient the viewers. You can use Dissolve to intercut multiple single shots from the entire chasing footage. This is Hong Kong’s signature hallucinatory editing style. It subverts the conventional narrative flow and interrupts it. Ida’s 1-minute movement, however, is a simple and effective example of how to edit. It delivers a network narrative. Each shot in this sequence is given a straight cut. This eliminates any incoherent discontinuities and creates a flow that unfolds Ida’s inner world day-to-day. The shots’ spatial and temporal relations are clearly displayed. Polish feature films are notable for their preference for natural time transitions and invisible film constructions. This allows the viewer focus on the narrative. This allows the audience to be guided by the film’s pace and gives them the opportunity to reflect on their lives, which is a great feature of Polish cinema. Polish cinema promotes individualism. It encourages people to go after their instincts, not be discouraged and focus on humanism. Fourth, sound is a distinct sense mode that has its own effect on national styles. It is fascinating to note that the Ida sequence does not contain any non-diegetic sounds. This creative choice removes post-production so that audiences can only concentrate on the sound coming from the film’s world. These scenes also have a direct relationship to the characters’ activities. The only sound Ida can make when she is eating dinner is that of the nuns clinking their spoons at the silent convent. This is a sign of the minimalist realism in Polish cinema. Films often remove unnecessary cinematic clutter to keep viewers’ attention on what is important. Chungking Express is a tricky place to sound make. The opening scene uses diegetic sound footage. It features pedestrian’s dialogue and car horns honking. This dynamically shows the bustle and chaos of central Hong Kong. Hong Kong cinema is used for portraying everyday life within the context of ordinary space. To keep the audience away from the characters and the surrounding environment, sound techniques like soundtrack layering or asynchronous sound effects were used. This film is about “being lost” and seeking identity amid the chaos and hustle of the city. Non-diegetic sound can be heard in the monologue that Cop 223 speaks to, which says, “Everyday we pass a lot people.” These people could be our best friends or we might never meet. Internal voiceovers are another indication of the character’s loneliness. Analyzing two Hong Kong movies, Ida (or Chungking Express), reveals the similarities between Polish and Hong Kong cinema. They make similar choices as well as different choices for four cinematic styles, mise en scene, cinematography. Editing and sound are all used to portray particular national cinema. Here are basic characteristics of Hong Kong and Polish cinema. Polish cinema tends to be more controversial than Hong Kong’s. Both cinemas can be seen as a result of historical change. One is related to Poland’s transition into capitalism while the other to Hong Kong’s reversal from China to the UK. In these cinemas, confusion about self-identity can also be seen. The cinemas also showcase the creative use of theories and techniques in various aspects. Bibliography
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