King Hu’s Dragon Inn was the movie for our fourth week and I greatly enjoyed watching it. The two main elements of the film that made the biggest impression on me was the use of what I believed to be the implementation of Chinese opera music techniques and the mise-en-scene.
During the fight scenes, the tempo of the music would contrast with the pacing of the movement of the characters. There would be a steady staccato beat which would end as the characters strike. Usually I associate a clash of noise with impact, but the build up of tension through the music and the slow movements of the character when they circled each other until the climax of the strike accompanied by the sudden absence of the music made for an engaging combination. It felt like a dance.
As for the mise-en-scene of the film, there were certain shots where the characters were framed beautifully by the elements of the inn. Two scenes that I remember particularly was when the Eunuch’s men first approach the inn, the camera peers over a wooden frame outside the inn to watch them enter. It felt as if the viewer was almost hiding from these dangerous men. The second scene is when the second-in-command of the secret police first approaches the wandering swordsman after seeing his underling’s corpse. Behind him is the open door which lets in white light, while he’s surrounded by the dark wooden pillars of the inn. It felt a bit like while he was trying to pretend to be a good person, he was ultimately bad.