Hitting the target, Hou Hsiao-hsien style

Associate Professor Adrian Martin.
Associate Professor Adrian Martin.

A public lecture, Hitting the Target, Hou Hsiao-hsien Style, will be held on March 15 from 5pm to 7pm at Monash University in the Menzies Building S704.

Abstract: Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin

Hou Hsiao-hsien has developed a unique and increasingly flexible style of directing. From his adoption of a long take/wide angle/static frame approach in the 1980s, he began to explore, in the 1990s and beyond, what he has called a “freer” approach based on the interplay of narrational objectivity, character subjectivity, and his own shifting ‘regard’ on a scene as it unfolds.

This approach has reached a new peak in his most recent film The Assassin, which mixes elliptical ‘action’ scenes and a complex historical plot.

Over the past year, we have been involved in making six different audiovisual essays on Hou’s work: three for a soon-to-be-released DVD box set of his earliest films (Belgian Cinematek); two for an international conference on Hou in 2015; and a new one prepared for this Monash presentation, on The Assassin.

Reflecting on the variety of Hou’s work and the various means of audiovisual analysis that we have employed (image/sound montage, voice-over, frame masking, repetition, etc), we aim to deepen the critical description and appreciation of Hou’s intricate interweaving of stylistic choices, at the levels of both its craft and its art.


Cristina Álvarez López is a critic and audiovisual artist who lives in Vilassar de Mar. She is the Co-Founder of the Spanish online film journal Transit: Cine y otros desvíos. Her critical writing and audiovisual essays have also appeared in Fandor Keyframe, MUBI Notebook, Shangri-la, LOLA, Frames, Contrapicado, Lumière, Blogs & Docs, La Fuga, De Filmkrant and books on Chantal Akerman, Bong Joon-ho, Philippe Garrel and Paul Schrader.

Adrian Martin is Adjunct Associate Professor of Film and Screen Studies at Monash University (Australia), and lives in Vilassar de Mar as a freelance writer and audiovisual artist. He is the author of seven books, the most recent being Mise en scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art (Palgrave). His regular columns appear in Caiman and De Filmkrant. He is Co-Editor of LOLA journal, and of the book Movie Mutations (BFI, 2003).