Watch the making of 2046 by Wong Kar-wai
2046 is a 2004 Hong Kong romantic drama film written and directed by Wong Kar-wai. It is a loose sequel to Wong’s films Days of Being Wild (1990) and In the Mood for Love (2000). It follows the aftermath of Chow Mo-wan’s unconsummated affair with Su Li-zhen in 1960s Hong Kong but also includes some science fiction elements and makes frequent references to the date of December 24 or Christmas Eve, on which many significant events in the film occur.
The film is the third chapter of a shared story that began with Days of Being Wild and continued with In the Mood for Love.
There are four main story arcs to the film. Three are about the relations of Chow with women that he meets after losing Su Li-zhen. The first concerns Chow and Wang Jing-wen, the second is about Chow and Bai Ling, and the third is about Chow and a different woman who is also named Su Li-zhen. The fourth takes place in Chow’s mysterious world of 2046 and concerns a Japanese passenger falling in love with a gynoid. Typical of Wong Kar-wai films, the arcs are presented in pieces and in non-chronological order.
2046 is the number of the hotel room in In the Mood for Love in which Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung’s characters meet to write their kung fu novel serial. It is the number of a hotel room occupied by Lulu, and later by Bai Ling at the Oriental Hotel, while Tony Leung’s room number is 2047.
The main character (Tony Leung) writes science fiction stories, in which 2046 is a popular year and place to which people travel through time. The stories are titled 2046 and later 2047 (a collaboration with Faye Wong’s character).
The year 2046 has its own significance for Hong Kong. It is 49 years after the handover of Hong Kong by the British on 1 July 1997. At the time of handover, the Mainland government promised fifty years of self-regulation for the former British colony. The year 2046 references the moment before Hong Kong’s special, self-regulated status ends.
The title may also be a reference to the Twilight Zone episode “The Lonely”, about a man sentenced to solitary confinement on a distant asteroid beginning in the year 2046. The isolated inmate falls in love with a gynoid that was delivered to keep him company. This plot structure parallels some of the science fiction motifs in Wong’s 2046.