2046posterWe started a film club last summer, which met for the 3rd time last night. There’s a couple of other people involved from my Gospel Community and a few other people that we’ve got to know through our band and the Open Mic Night at the Broadfield in Sheffield.

Last night it was Nora’s turn to choose a film. She’s from Hong Kong and so chose a film set there called ‘2046’.

The film clocks in at 2hrs and 3 minutes and I have to say you do feel it. The style was very french, with long pauses between sentences, slow motion as people did… not very much slowly anyway! There is also a lot of s ex, although it is not graphic.

But having said that it is beautifully shot and raises some interesting questions (if you can follow the plot!).

Basically it is a story from the perspective of Chow Mo-Wan.

The story starts, or so it says in the year 2046. The main character, who at this point is japanese (all becomes clear towards the end of the film) is travelling on a train. He talks about how people go to ‘2046’ to find lost memories, because nothing ever changes in 2046. People don’t know how long it takes to come back from 2046 because no-one ever has.

It transpires that 2046 is in fact a story written by Chow. who is a pulp-fiction novelist. The film is in fact set in the 1960’s in Hong Kong mainly.

WARNING – don’t read on if you don’t want the story spoiled!

The essence of the story is that Chow had an affair with a married
woman. They run away together and stay in a hotel room ‘2046’.

Years later Chow meets a girl called Lu-lu who he had known years before. She passes out and he takes her back to her room, which just happens to also be room ‘2046’.

A day or so later she is murdered there. Chow comes back looking for her, to be told that there wasn’t ever anyone there. He wants to rent the room, but because it’s still being cleared after the brutal attack he ends up with room 2047.

He then goes on a string of se xual relationships, that are no more. There is one girl who falls in love with him, who lives in room 2046 where a lot of the encounters take place, but he rejects her callously. There is another woman that he seems to fall in love with while trying to help her resolve things with her Japanese boyfriend. He even writes a story in the form of his futuristic ‘2046’ for her to illustrate how hard the boyfriend must be finding things. But as the story progresses it seems like he actually takes the place of the Japanese boyfriend.

Anyway… to cut a long film short, it turns out that all these relationships were a quest to regain the ‘lost memory’ of that first illicit affair – hence him figuratively going to room ‘2046’. He fails and hurts a number of woman along the way.

There’s a certain meaninglessness about the whole thing, illustrated by the repeated scenes of trains rushing on and on and on. In the futuristic story he never leaves the train and seems to be counting how long he has been there almost fruitlessly.

I asked the question of the group whether or not this reflects how people do feel. I raised something about the ‘atheist buses’ that are going around Sheffield at the moment with the statement ‘God probably doesn’t exist – stop worrying and enjoy life’.

Steve McAlpine makes an insightful point on his blog that many of the people seeing that slogan already don’t believe in God – but it hasn’t stopped them worrying… about money, jobs, relationships etc etc. Not believing in God doesn’t bring an ‘enjoyable’ life.

This was well illustrated by ‘2046’. Chow wanted to regain something he clearly thought was good, but even that was an illicit affair. He goes on a string of self-focused, destructive relationships in a vein effort to regain those ‘memories’. But in the end his life is like one of those trains, travelling on and on with no destination in sight. There is no God, there is no meaning, there’s only a memory of something imperfect and a self-obsessed and futile quest for fulfillment…