This scene starts with close-up shots of Nameless and King Qin when Nameless reveals why Broken Sword believes Qin needs to stay alive: to end the suffering of citizens during wars by uniting all the kingdoms. The close-up shots are used to distinctly show the two characters’ internal emotions. Nameless looking down indicates his inner conflict between revenge and the greater good, while Qin looking straight at him with tears in his eyes indicates his deeply grateful feeling of someone finally understanding his motives. Furthermore, the calm and relatively soft string orchestra in the background complements Qin’s emotional monologue about his intention for conquering all the kingdoms, creating a sorrowful mood and helps the audience empathize with Qin.
This side view wide shot of the scene distinctly displays the contrast in power between Nameless and King Qin though their height difference and being split by the barrier of soldier candles that symbolize all the sacrifices that have been made for unity. In addition, there is an absence of any background music after the speech and emphasizes the diegetic sound of Qin throwing his sword across the candles. The shiny sword crossing the barrier then becomes the most salient item in the frame, evidently showing that the King is willing to trust Nameless to do the right thing and they share the same ideal: peace for all citizens. This indicates that the final decision is about to be made and accentuates the serious mood of the scene.
Following the wide shot above, these two shots also show a clear contrast between Nameless and King Qin. Nameless is portrayed with a high angle shot in ordinary robes which represents low power, while Qin is portrayed with a low angle shot in full armor which represents high power. Despite the fact that these camera angles and clothing make Nameless look less powerful, Qin is actually the vulnerable one that is threatened in the scene. Furthermore, the candles in the foreground of both frames are deliberately placed there to highlight the short ten-step distance between them, and the red “sword” calligraphy in the background of Qin symbolizes Broken Sword’s mindset that a true hero should not use his sword to fight and instead aim for peace. These details support both the act of Nameless’ revenge and sacrifice, and thus creates a dramatic tension for the audience by not knowing which side will be victorious. Additionally, both characters are placed dead center of the frame, and this symmetry has the effects of making the characters stand out to the audience and portraying a powerful moment.
Overall, the purpose of the scene is to highlight the theme of sacrificing for the greater good and bringing the movie plot to its tense climax. While the audience comes to understand the intentions of Broken Sword, they will also be on the tip of their seats, nervous to see whether or not Nameless will decide to kill King Qin in the end.