Moonlight and Wong Kar-wai
"Moonlight" enlightened the nation to the struggles of queer black men exploring their identities as they relate to masculinity in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, in a way no one had ever seen before—so much so that it garnered an Oscar for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards.
The film is, in many ways, a first of its kind, and yet still manages to draw inspiration from the lush, romantic visuals landscape of Hong Kong-based filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai’s films that came long before it. In a career that has spanned over 30 years, the director has become renowned for his distinct style, as one of the best directors in the world.
Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, paid cinematic homage to Wong Kar-Wai, being captivated by his films and citing him as an inspiration. “When I think of the way human beings process consciousness, it’s much more in the way Wong tells that story”, Jenkins says of the circular nature of his storytelling. “[Wong] does a great job of taking interiority and translating it to the screen with something you are taught not to do in film school".
According to cinematographer James Laxton, during Moonlight's filming, there was a Dropbox folder full of images including screengrabs from Wong’s movies. Here you can see a few comparisons:
There’s a sense of cultural and thematic exchange when you put the two side by side, as if “Moonlight” is referencing Wong Kar-wai in an effort to acknowledge that the human experience extends beyond race, and that human connection is ultimately what makes us who we are.
Video by @alessiomarinacci