I watched 'A Yellow Bird' after a heavy lunch meal in Wu Yee-sun. Drowsiness immediately came because lightings were dim and sounds silent. Not until the half-time of screening did I mentally wake up. It was a love-making scene in a tent near desolate river bank, where cheap prostitution in Singapore often located at. The camera moved from woman’s pale body to man’s tanned side-face. Thanks to the sharp contrast of skin colors (the heroine is Chinese, the hero Indian), a chiaroscuro effect naturally appeared, albeit the deliberate absence of lighting. The sound of sex, moreover, foregrounded man-woman intimacy, desire and affect. In highlighting orgasmic sounds, other ambient music was strictly detached.
It provides a point of departure for examining the lighting and sound effect in this movie-which-to a large extent-shows an acute awareness of the real, the natural. “As natural as possible”, the director proclaimed in the Q & A session. In practicing this idea, natural light (天光, I would say) and darkness predominated the whole movie. I observed spectators’ reaction vis-à-vis the dim lighting. Intriguingly, many of which held breath and made noises in changing sitting position, simply for the loss of visuality. Their eyes somehow are discouraged from wandering and are drawn to the barely visible part within the frame. Once the only visible part disappeared, say, in the last sequence, when the hero entered a pitch-dark room, we can’t see but “sense” his action and temper, with the help of ambient sound-his heavy and rapid breath, specifically.