Three Times in my Head

Three Times in my Head

When I watched the film ‘Three Times’ by Taiwanese director Hsiao Hsien Hou, it occurred to me how clothes could play an emotional part in a film.  The film is about experiencing love in three different time periods, 1911, 1966 and 2005 and in each period, the clothes that the character Shu Qi plays seems to convey and give clues to what she is feeling, what she is going through.  Shu Qi and Chang Chen play three pairs of lovers in three eras.  Overall, the film was so beautifully shot and so thoughtfully put together in terms of appearances, that scenery, music and costume had to contribute in a big way and was felt so intensely.  Dialogue was sparse (in fact, the part set in 1911 is filmed like a silent movie), the pace so languid, you felt everything acutely and the clothes definitely played a part.  The way Ah Mei in 1911 smooths down her cheong sam top and straightens her sleeves, as a hapless gesture of control, whilst fighting back the tears because she has fallen in love with her client, Mr Chang (she was a concubine) and realised the helplessness of the situation.  The coquettish manner in which May in 1966 wears a puff sleeve blouse and giggles when she finds out Chen, the guy she had a semi-crush on had found her after searching through village after village.  In 2005, Jing, a grungey bisexual pulls at a uniform baggy grey cardigan, as if it were a security blanket, protecting her against the demons in her head about cheating on her girlfriend with Zhen (played by Chang Chen), her band’s photographer.  When one argues that they are just clothes to cover your body, I have to hold my hands up and say after seeing this film that ‘No, we feel things in them, we fall in love in them and I will always remember that moment when I was walking along the Thames at night with that special someone wearing my purple washed silk dress and playing with the sleeves and playfully skipping along in my gold sequin ballet flats and feeling like I was pretty and wanted.’

Oh and endnote: Please pick up this film on DVD or catch it at your local arthouse cinema if you can!

UPDATE: The Yes Asia link I posted is for people who have Region 3 DVD players.  If you’re in North America, you’ll have to wait until September 26th for the Region 1 DVD and if you’re in Europe, well tough cookies, you’ll have to wait until November 13th for the Region 2 DVD.

1911

1966

2005

16 comments

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  1. hoyan

    2006-08-27 at 1:16 PM

    I love Shu Qi! She’s great in Leehom Wang’s video ‘The First Morning’. I’ve been wanting to see ‘Three Times’ and after reading your post I really have to go find it to watch.

  2. Lana

    2006-08-27 at 3:57 PM

    I love the clothes. Especially the ones shown in the year 1911. It shows not only her emotions but also her culture she is living in. And that puffed shirt in 1966 is soo cute! I’m going to look for the dvd in the videotheque here in my village. Maybe it gives me some ideas or inspiration to try something new..

  3. +

    2006-08-27 at 6:50 PM

    Great post, I’m looking forward to seeing this movie. Have you seen “In the Mood for Love” by the director Wong Kar Wai? It’s a film where the beautiful clothes (in conjunction with the richly hued set design and gorgeous soundtrack) contribute greatly to the sensual and elegant atmosphere. Incidentally, Ping Bing Lee, who did the cinematography on Three Times, also worked on In the Mood for Love, so I imagine it’s probably in a similar visual style as Three Times.

  4. susie_bubble

    2006-08-27 at 6:53 PM

    Yes, I think I’ve seen every Wong Kar Wai film that exists! My mother is a HUGE fan!

  5. Grace

    2006-08-27 at 8:18 PM

    He’s one of my favorite directors! You have to watch Café Lumière and Flowers of Shanghai too! <3

  6. jackie

    2006-08-27 at 9:45 PM

    does this movie come in english subtitles?

  7. a.bolin

    2006-08-27 at 10:01 PM

    it looks interesting..
    on that site yesasia.com it is said to be ‘region code 3’which you re not supposed to be able to watch in europe (?) did you have any problems with it?

  8. Leigh

    2006-08-28 at 3:14 AM

    You should get into advertising. I’d never heard of this film and you’ve completely sold me on it. I can’t wait to see it now. And I love the photos you’ve included of the costumes.

  9. Diana

    2006-08-28 at 4:57 AM

    I’m so tempted to purchase that movie, it looks very interesting.
    This is such a nice little fashion blog. I love it. If you dont mind me asking, where do you get all the lastest news on the fashions?

  10. Sam

    2006-08-28 at 5:13 AM

    Have you seen 2046? Glamourous and stunning costumes and Gong Li looks absolutely wonderful with one black glove. I want to watch that trilogy of short films called ‘Eros’ and there’s one called ‘The Hand’. Is it any good since you are a big fan of his work?

  11. Joey

    2006-08-28 at 5:23 AM

    Added it to my Netflix, sounds great!

  12. Linda

    2006-08-28 at 11:03 AM

    I watch the movie in convent garden last week…It’s really gd~Luv the outfits which shu qi wore in the movie *

  13. susie_bubble

    2006-08-28 at 11:40 AM

    I’ve seen Flowers of Shanghai …. have to get Cafe Lumiere sometime too.
    Jackie: Yes, the dvd should come with English subtitles.
    A.Bolin: I just realised that. Do you have a uni-region DVD player? Mine seems to play all region DVDs without any problems. Have addressed the region DVD problem in the post.
    Leigh: Funnily enough, I do work in advertising! I’m not a copywriter though (the people who write the spiel that convinces consumers!).
    Diana: Thanks! I get my fashion news from a number of sources – vogue.co.uk, telegraph, times, WWD, FWD…. an assortment of places really!
    Sam: I’ve seen Eros but I can’t say that I’m as impressed with it namely because of the latter two short films by Soderbergh and M. Antonioni. The last part was EXCRUCIATINGLY bad. However, Wong Kar Wai’s part ‘The Hands’ ws still flawless in terms of it’s cinematography. The story however was a little too sketchy for me.

  14. Andrea

    2006-08-29 at 12:42 AM

    Shu Qi is soo beautiful in this movie.

  15. Juliet@ Beautynomics

    2006-09-02 at 5:55 AM

    I want to watch that film!!! 🙂 Shu Qi is simply gorgeous. ( love the lips! sultry! ) The last movie I’ve watched of her was So Close. Are you Chinese, Susie ? 🙂

  16. Nisha

    2006-11-13 at 10:40 AM

    I just got to see Three Times, found a pirated version in my local DVD store which I only recognised because it had the picture of Jing on the cover that you put up here, and I loved it despite the cheesy subtitles, so I just wanted to say thanks for leading me to a brilliant watch.

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