“Hero” is set in ancient China, where the country is in violent conflicts for power and unification. A group of assassins from Zhao attempted to assassinate Qin King but failed because of multiple renunciations. Later, Qin unifies the seven kingdoms and became the emperor of China.
This scene (1:20-1:22) is a flashback through Flying Snow’s description. Three years ago, Broken Sword and Flying Snow broke into the palace to kill Qin, but Broken Sword gave up. In this scene, slow-motion, extreme close-up shots, and close-up shots have been utilized to indicate Broken Sword’s relinquishment of his assassination and foreshadow events later on.
1:21:01 Sound & Language
The green color shows one of the versions of the story and is one that actually occurred. Throughout this scene, there is a complete absence of dialogues. The only sound present is a bleak musical background and diegetic sound.
1:20:38 Slow Motion & ECU
Slow-motion has been utilized during the assassination when Qin’s sword slips out of his hand during Broken sword’s fierce attack and the sword flies away. The frame also freezes where the sword struck the column, indicating the King just lost his protecting weapon. This creates suspense and establishes a tense mood where the King is now standing armless in front of an approaching assassin.
The extreme close-up shot on the King’s neck clarifies the suspense created previously and emphasizes Broken Sword’s choice of renouncing the assassination for a greater purpose. The framing on the King’s subtle injury within his neck, as shown by the streak of blood, indicates Broken Sword only wounded the King slightly despite he could easily exert a more powerful force that ends the King’s life, which is contrary to the audience’s expectation. The enlargement of a frame reveals significant details to the audience, fulfilling and justifying the vacancy of a scene that has not been shown within the film and potently reverses the plot. More importantly, this scene indirectly informs the audience of Broken’s Sword’s abandonment of assassination, otherwise, there should be a stream of blood instead of an innocuous scratch. This sets up and foreshadows a future event in that history might repeat itself and further assassinations will also end in vain due to Broken Sword’s obstruction, just as what happened when Nameless forwent his mission.
The focal point later falls on Flying Snow’s facial expression, portraying solemn and disappointment. Based on this centered close-up shot, it can be inferred that Flying Snow is extremely stupefied and dismayed at the fact that Broken Sword gives up an opportunity within striking. The pause on Flying Snow’s dismal face reveals the assassination is now doomed to fail as she has no power to revert and change the situation, and she is disappointed by Broken Sword’s choice. Then, the abrupt shift from this scene back to the present timeline (white) suggests the assassination resulted in vain because of Broken Sword and explains the underlying cause of the alienated relationship between Snow and Sword, justifying the future plot of Snow’s attack on Sword and Sword’s suicidal act.