I first watched “Her” nine years ago and loved it then: a science fiction movie, yet on a much more intimate level than pew-pew laserbeams or spacetravel. “Her” shows how difficult love is between humans, and how easy it can be between a human and a conscious yet bodyless operating system. When the movie ends, you’ll feel both hurt and healed.
The movie is a pastel-colored dystopia that mostly uses no-touch, voice-activated devices — and the devices that still use a screen, use it for substance and style, rather than complexity.
I remembered all of that, so last month I watched the romance again. Ten minutes into the movie, I started to wonder: is this Shanghai? It’s an American movie, but why does this look, feel like Shanghai? But the city’s skyline didn’t match Shanghai’s fingerprint. Halfway through the movie though, that doubt was removed. The roundabout-centered area of Wujiaochang (五角场) in the North of Shanghai was obvious in view, unmistakably. It’s not a famous area in Shanghai, it’s just that I’ve been living in its vicinity for over three years, where Joaquin Phoenix and the rest of the cast were put on film a decade ago.
Online I found some interviews and articles, that Spike Jonze had selected Shanghai as his filming location because of its futuristic feel — and because Shanghai’s many elevated walkways allowed for ‘Theodore’ and others to walk without us ever having to see the street or cars below. Famous landmarks were either kept out of shot, removed (Pearl Oriental Tower), or simply not yet built (Shanghai Tower).
Well, besides a movie to recommend, this post is just a reminder that there are so many stories we don’t know, hidden in the roads on which we walk or the benches on which we sit.