Zhang Yimou’s 2002 film Hero is the story of three assassins and the emperor Qin. The protagonist Flying Snow determined to fight with Broken Sword, who opposed the assassination of emperor Qin. In the scene from 1:35:40 to 1:38:45, as Flying Snow realizes she killed her husband due to her obsession with vengeance, she also suicides. In this scene, the techniques of non-diegetic sound, wide shot, and color are used to show the characterization of Flying snow to elicit sympathy from the audience.


Non-diegetic sound plays a significant role in this movie. Specifically, in this scene, as Flying Snow stabs Broken Sword, the non-diegetic sound changes from music with tension to calmer and sadder music. The change in non-diegetic sound emphasizes that Flying Snow comprehends her imprudence of not trusting Broken Sword owing to her obsession with revenge. Flying Snow’s behavior changes as soon as she stabs Broken Sword: She is first surprised, collapses, then repeatedly asks, “Why didn’t you defend yourself?” (Hero). Establishing a sad mood, the non-diegetic sound dramatizes Flying Snow’s sadness and her behavior change. Therefore, the non-diegetic sound evokes sympathy for Flying snow’s tragic ending of killing her husband from the audience.

Moreover, Zhang utilizes wide shots to present the couple’s tragedy through the characterization of Flying Snow. In this scene, Flying Snow and Broken Sword are symmetrically placed in the barren desert, and she is yelling sorrowfully. As Flying Snow kills Broken Sword, the relationship between Broken Sword and Flying Snow is broken, shown through the invisible line between them. The background of this scene, desert, also implies death, linking to Broken Sword’s death. Hence, underlining the heartbreaking consequence, the characterization of Flying Snow signifies the end of the relationship.

Furthermore, the color white can be symbolized as death and purity. In the east, white often denotes death, and, in the movie, white foreshadows the death of both Broken Sword and Flying Snow. Flying Snow first kills broken Sword; then, because Flying Snow loves Broken Sword, she eventually suicides to return to ‘home’ that Broken Sword said. In the west, white represents purity. Therefore, the color white indicates Broken Sword and Flying Snow will be purified and be together after death when they arrive ‘home,’ which symbolizes any places they can be together. Thus, Flying Snow’s suicide, which is eventually led by her obsession with revenge, draws sympathy from the audience.

In the film Hero, the use of non-diegetic sound, wide shot, and color portrays the consequence of Flying Snow’s choices and her behavior in the scene where both Broken Sword and Flying Snow eventually die. Zhang attempts to warn of the danger of vengeance, as people can easily be blinded by their emotions and regret.