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Urban Stories
Thematic Comparison
As Tears Go By and La

Themes to Compare
Context of time and place

Representation of the city

The city as a character in itself
The influence of the urban environment on the characters

Representation of Power
Physical / Authority / Power / Gender / Social Class / Money /

Representation of Poverty
Material / Emotional / Education / Opportunity

Representation of Conflict
Physical / Psychological (of the mind!) / Emotional / Material /
Social & Cultural / Family & relationships

Context of Time & Place

Production where and when it was made
As Tears Go By
1988, Hong Kong East meets West / MTV Culture
A time when the handover to China from UK
governance was imminent, with the potential to
change lives for Hong Kong citizens
There was a new wave in Hong Kong cinema with
young directors who wanted to experiment with
visual style, play with mainstream genres and also
reflect the experience of people of lived in Hong

1995, Paris France
A time of social social and cultural unrest that saw
rioting in the Banlieus
Neo-realist films with a politcal message were
popular in Paris at the time

Context of Time & Place

Films setting where and
when it is set
As Tears Go By
Late 1980s Hong Kong
City streets & bars of Kowloon
Contrasts the city with hotels &
spaces of Lantau Island

1995 Paris set over 24 hours
Action cuts between life on the
estates outside the city of Paris and
an afternoon / evening / night in the
Contrasts the two locations but they
are bored in both

Representation of the City

The city as a character
in itself
As Tears Go By
Seedy streets / Mah-jong
clubs / dark alleyways /
rundown apartments / TV
screens / neon lights /
night clubs & bars / x
rated cinemas

High rise blocks / enclosed
/ dark streets / train
stations / police stations /
graffiti / gym / art gallery

Representation of the City

The influence of the urban environment on
the characters
As Tears Go By
Sense of entrapment by & addiction to the
Presents a continual cycle of consequence
Can never fully escape the city is what they know
& where they belong

Sense of entrapment by their environment but also
a sense of community & belonging
They want to be a part of the beautiful
environment of the City & enjoy it in the same way
as the middle class but are apart from it.
Can never fully escape tied to their place in terms
of social class / ethnic status & where they belong
as result.

Representation of Power
As Tears Go By
Gang warfare and violence

Rioting of youths and physical
violence of the police

As Tears Go By
Big brothers, Godfathers & police
hierarchies in levels of power
through authority

The police / middle classes

Representation of Power
As Tears Go By
Men & hierarchy of power
between men the
Women seek marriage / love
to gain respect

Male characters represented
as important
Women represented as
mothers, children or sexual
objects but isnt a film about
women (or for women?)

Representation of power
Social class
As Tears Go By
Triad gangs they are the underclass but there
is a strict code of status within the gangs
Wah has power through his social status in the
gang as a big brother but Fly lacks power and
is intent on working his way up the hierarchy to
gain it.

3 main characters represent 2nd generation
working class, ethnic minorities Algerian,
Jewish, African
They are shown to be powerless against the
police & working class who are of superior
social status to them

Representation of Power
As Tears Go By
The triad family is a
powerful bond loyalty of

Bond between the three
friends is powerful, the
rioting is sparked by the
death of their friend a

Representation of Power
As Tears Go By
The most important relationship is that
between the brothers of the gang
members this is a powerful, if
destructive, relationship.
Nghor is a distraction she represents a
way out for Wah but it isnt enough for
him as the City draws him back every

The key relationships are between the 3
friends and their sense of duty towards
their murdered friend.
This is a powerful relationship and their
friendship is what drives their actions.

Representation of Poverty

As Tears Go By
Material possessions are what
drive the brotherhood
Fly has few and is driven by a
need to be materially successful.
Wah is successful but has no
obvious material wealth.

Material possessions are used to
identify the 3 different characters
& their social status.
They live in a run down estate
and there is some sense of
material poverty .

Representation of poverty
As Tears Go By
Emotionally charged rather than
impoverished. All of their actions
are linked to an emotional
response in some way.
Their emotion is mostly
channelled through violence.

Emotionally charged rather than
impoverished. Their quest for
justice for their friend is centred
around emotional , rather than
rational action.
Their emotion is channelled
through aggression.

Representation of Poverty
As Tears Go By
Their education is the street & the
hierarchy of the Triads.

Education doesnt get them anywhere
and therefore isnt valued.

Representation of Poverty
As Tears Go By
Very few opportunities are offered Nghor
offers the opportunity for Wah to escape his
Triad life but this is overshadowed by the
opportunity for Fly to kill for honour.

Very few opportunities Hubert has lost his
gym with little opportunity to rebuild a new
one. They are resigned to going back to the
estate after their night out in Paris, theres
nothing for them to do at either place.

Representation of Conflict
As Tears Go By
Conflict & violence between Fly, Wah and
other Triad members

Conflict with the police & the skin heads

As Tears Go By
Wah wants to escape but wants to protect
Fly cant leave

Vince wants to kill a policeman for justice
but is too scared.

Representation of
As Tears Go By
Wah wants to love Nghor but his feelings
of loyalty to Fly & his triad life run deeper.
Fly wants respect from the Triads but this
is just a substitute for the love he wants
from his Mother

Vince wants to avenge his friends death
but his anger is a reflection of his anger
at his position in society & lack of voice.
Hubert recognises this and this is a source
of conflict between the two.

Representation of conflict
As Tears Go By
The need for material objects to
identify status is a source of conflict for
Fly and leads to his downfall.

The material object of the gun is a
source of conflict throughout the film
it gives Vince some status but is
ultimately used to kill by Hubert.

Representation of Conflict
Social / Cultural
As Tears Go By
They are the underclass and
conflict occurs when Fly tires to
increase his social status within
the brotherhood.

Social unrest between the
rioters and the police.
Main characters as working
class conflict in their interaction
with middle classes in the
Gallery sequence.
Cultural / ethnic status the
racism they feel is reinforced by
the sequence where they
conflict with the police & the

Representation of Conflict
As Tears Go By
Wahs relationship with Fly
and Nghor are in conflict.

Said, Hubert and Vinces
relationship is both
supportive and conflicting
at the same time. They are
friends but constantly
argue and fall out. Said is
positioned between Vince
and Hubert, and he is the
only one who lives at the

Representation of Conflict
As Tears Go By
Wahs family is the brother hood and he is in conflict
with Big Tony as a consequence of Flys recklessness.
He has little respect for family values, suggested by
his relationship with Nghor.
Fly wants to be accepted by his family and tries to do
the right thing but feels rejected by them due to his
feelings of inadequacy

Said, Hubert and Vinces family backgrounds are
warm and secure Vinces grandmother jokes, Said
argues with his sister and Hubert wants to please his
mother. There is little sense of conflict between
family in contrast to the social-cultural conflict
experienced by the characters.

Thematic Comparison
Look at the following images for
each film. For each image, identify
which theme they could be use to

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