Films & Schedules

  • Ashes of Time Redux

  • Wong Kar Wai

Hong Kong, China
Cantonese, Mandarin
93 minutes

Production Company:
Jet Tone Productions
Executive Producer:
Tsai Mu Ho, Chan Ye Cheng
Wong Kar Wai, Jeff Lau, Jacky Pang Yee Wah
Wong Kar Wai, based on the novel by Louis Cha
Production Designer:
William Chang Suk Ping
Christoper Doyle
William Chang Suk Ping, Patrick Tam
Frankie Chan, Roel A. Garcia
Principal Cast: Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Carina Lau, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Jacky Cheung, Charlie Young

Canadian Distributor:
Mongrel Media
US Distributor:
Sony Pictures Classics
International Sales Agent:
Fortissimo Films

TIFF Tags: Action/Adventure  Romance  Asia 

Monday September 0803:00PM RYERSON Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1009:30AM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The original Ashes of Time has a mythical reputation among Wong Kar Wai aficionados. A masterpiece rarely seen in the West, it is also the director's one and only martial arts film. Shot in the remote Gobi Desert in China, it featured possibly the most impressive cast ever assembled in Hong Kong cinema's history. Even the crew – which included action choreographer Sammo Hung, production designer William Chang Suk Ping and cinematographer Christopher Doyle – are now all legends in their own right.

After a difficult and extended shoot, expectations were gargantuan. But when the film finally premiered, it left audiences baffled, as they had expected a more traditional wuxia movie. Instead, Ashes of Time was, and remains, the most abstract of Wong's works, a poetic reverie on unrequited love and memory. The film won the prize for best cinematography at the Venice Film Festival, among other awards, but critical consensus only arrived years later. Today the film is regarded as one of Wong's finest, and its influence on subsequent works, such as Zhang Yimou's Hero and Wong's own 2046,is evident.

With the original negatives lost and multiple versions floating around the world, the director had always wanted to return to Ashes of Time for a restored, remastered and definitive cut. The result is Ashes of Time Redux. By restructuring the new version according to seasons, Wong clarifies the central narratives while intensifying the film's most sublime moments, including the pivotal scene in which Maggie Cheung delivers her mournful soliloquy. The picture itself has been regraded, bringing new clarity to the impressionistic composition that has won Christopher Doyle acclaim. But the biggest change is in the soundtrack: gone are the synth tracks, replaced by lush orchestral movements with cello work by Yo-Yo Ma.

In Ashes of Time Redux, Wong has streamlined the narrative without losing the essence of the original work. It is an aural and visual feast, as well as an ode to memory and regret that proves as timeless as its luminous star, the late Leslie Cheung.

Raymond Phathanavirangoon

Wong Kar Wai was born in Shanghai and emigrated to Hong Kong as a child. His films include As Tears Go By (88), Days of Being Wild (91), Ashes of Time (94), Chungking Express (94), Fallen Angels (95), Happy Together (97), In the Mood for Love (00), 2046 (04), the segment The Hand, part of the omnibus filmEros (04), My Blueberry Nights (07), the segment I Travelled 9000 km to Give It to You, part of the omnibus film Chacun son cinema (07) and Ashes of Time Redux (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award