At Sea

Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Film and Television Studies

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Hyon Joo Yoo

Second Advisor

Maria Hummel

Third Advisor

Sarah Nilsen


creative project, psychoanalysis, film and tv studies, Wong Kar-wai, gender, feminism


At Sea is a short film about two people who think they're the same person. Crafting a dramatic narrative through a series of vignettes between two people, my film explores the tension of not knowing whether someone in one’s life is coming or going. Nora lets Lily stay in her apartment, and cares for her deeply, but doesn’t know if she’ll leave. I apply the three problematizations I analyze below—of the shot-reverse-shot, objects, and absent space—to convey this tension.

Thomas Elsaesser argues inherent to the classic Hollywood melodramas of the 1940s and 50s is a certain “myth-making function, insofar as their significance lies in the structure and articulation of the action, not in any psychologically motivated correspondence with individualized experience.” The melodrama film's form dictates its emotion, not the plot. This visual and sonic formalism can be understood as a filmic grammar. Wong Kar-wai's filmography realizes its own language through re-realizing the convention of the shot-revers-shot, display of objects, and space itself. These films avoid the excessive signification of original melodrama, reaching a more consistent grammar. This consistency allows Wong to experiment with these problematizations, re-imagining the feminine subject. Through equalizing signification of objects within a film's mise en scène, editing conventions, and portrayal of filmic space, Wong allows his actors to be bored. This radicalizes the language of traditional Hollywood films through re-realizing a style of physiological movement of actors deemed necessary. I apply these aesthetic considerations to my own film, using psychoanalysis and considerations of how language divides the body part-by-part.


Online streaming of At Sea and writeup will be available after 1 year, after festival circuit.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.