What is the purpose of the scene that you have chosen and how have language and filmic techniques been employed to achieve that purpose?
Zhang Yimou’s 2002 Hero portrays a character Flying Snow, who has to sacrifice herself to save her lover Broken sword. In a short scene from 49:04 to 52:04 Flying Snow decides to kill herself to save her lover. In this scene, the movie utilizes close-up, dialog, pathos, and wide-shot to convey the theme of love to present that love is a powerful emotion that makes one endure anything.
The movie first employs close-up and dialog to present the sorrowful but determined will of flying snow to sacrifice herself for her lover. The scene utilizes close-up to clearly show the facial expression of flying snow. She helplessly closes her mouse and looks down with sad and empty eyes, which highlights the grief of flying snow that she must sacrifice to save her lover. On the contrary, flying snow’s dialog, which employs strong dictions such as “must” and “proceed”, presents that she is strongly determined to sacrifice herself to save her lover despite the sorrow that lies on her heart. No background sound is employed in this scene, which builds up tension and lets the audience solely concentrate on the facial expression and the dialog of the character. Consequently, the author highlights the heartbreaking devotion of a pathetic woman to kill herself to save her lover.
Additionally, the movie also employs pathos to highlight the theme of love. The scene again uses close-up to show the facial expression of Flying Snow, but this time, she stares at Broken Sword. Her face looks sentimental and sorrowful, presenting a tragic love between her and her lover. Moreover, the background music of this scene consists of stringed instruments which set up a sad and heartbreaking atmosphere, highlighting the sorrowful love. Through the effective use of pathos, this scene successfully delivers the theme of love between Flying Snow and her lover. By doing so, the scene elaborates that love is a strong motivation that drove her to sacrifice.
Lastly, the film utilizes a wide shot to emphasize her devotion to her lover. The following scene presents Flying Snow being on her way to sacrifice. The shot is taken in the wide shot, where Flying Snow occupies only a small space in the middle. By doing so, the surrounding terrain looks much larger than the character, which establishes an overwhelming atmosphere. Moreover, the terrain that surrounds her is rugged and harsh. As she must cross over the terrain to sacrifice herself, it portrays that her sacrifice will be overwhelming, harsh, and painful. She even looks lonely being the only person on such vast terrain, but she proceeds without a moment’s hesitation. Although the sacrifice is overwhelming, painful, and lonely, she decides to sacrifice just for her lover. Consequently, the scene highlights that the power of love can even make one commit such an overwhelming sacrifice.
Through the effective use of close-up, dialog, pathos, and wide-shot, the scene where Flying Snow sacrifices herself presents the theme of love. Zhang attempts to inform us of the value and power of love.