“Hero” Scene Analysis

As conspiracies to assassinate the tyrannical king Qin unfolds, Zhang Yimou’s film Hero follows the story of a couple, Flying Snow and Broken Snow. They are under a dilemma where one of them must sacrifice for the success of the assassination scheme. Hence, Snow stabs Sword to forcibly stop his sacrifice and leaves to confront death instead. In this scene, Zhang uses a careful selection of dialogue, character action, and mise-en-scene to emphasize the power of love and affection, which even enables sacrificial acts for one another.

The film utilizes dialogue that appeals to pathos to demonstrate the couple’s intense love. With Snow’s decision to sacrifice herself, Sword cries, “If you died, how could I live?”, emphasizing the inseparable bond that exists in their relationship. This rhetorical question vividly delivers Sword’s desperation to stop her death, arousing sympathy within the audience for their tragedy. Subsequently, Snow simply replies, “I want you to live.” The succinctness of the line represents her firm determination to save Sword’s life at the expense of her own. However, this is ironic as Sword can no longer live without her, which dramatizes the tragedy, reinforcing sacrificial love. Therefore, this dialogue highlights how a deep relationship gives individuals the strength to face challenges even in peril of their life.

 

Additionally, the actions of Flying Snow are carefully arranged to demonstrate her genuine emotions towards Broken Sword. After the stab, Snow immediately ties a blue cloth around his wound with shaking hands. First, the red color of blood, signifying betrayal, is obscured by the blue color of the fabric, which symbolizes their loyal relationship. This juxtaposition emphasizes that the true intention of her stab lies not in harming but protecting. Second, the detail of Snow’s shaking hands contrasts with her determined voice in “I want you to live,” revealing her inner distress in facing this life-or-death situation. Therefore, Snow’s shaking hands covering the wound shows that intense love can enable individuals to face their deepest fears and stand up for the well-being of their loved ones.

Furthermore, Zhang carefully arranges the mise-en-scene to foreshadow the tragedy in the couple’s relationship. A long shot is taken with Snow’s departure, in which the scene is dominated by nature’s vast openness, while Snow only has an infinitesimal existence in the foreground. This contrast physically illustrates the circumstances’ hopelessness, where her fate is destined to an irreversible tragic end. This is further emphasized by the placement of a white horse on the top of the frame. The Chinese culture often associates white with death, as decorations such as white chrysanthemums are funeral traditions. Simultaneously, a white horse is an archetype that symbolizes a hero’s brave characteristics. Hence, Snow’s approach towards the white horse foreshadows her brave sacrifice leading to the tragic death of her life and relationship.

In conclusion, using dialogue, character action, and visual mise-en-scene, Zhang facilitates the audience to completely immerse in the tragic love between Snow and Sword and emphasizes the theme that intense love enables sacrifice.

Sleep and the Sun will Rise

Students participating in the International Baccalaureate Program tend to prioritize academic work over sleep in the struggle over an overwhelming workload. To address this issue, I created a poster to draw attention to the importance of sleep before an exam. My primary audience is IB students who are neglecting sleep to study. Strategies that I employ to achieve my poster include color, symbolism, pathos, and word choice.

I utilize colors to draw the audience into the argument addressed. First, I used purple, the sky’s color during sunrise, to emphasize the importance of sleep at night. Furthermore, yellow in the poster is depicted as sunshine, representing cheerfulness and happiness. Hence, yellow illustrates the successful outcome of sleeping, an outstanding grade. Red, a conspicuous color, helps to draw the audience into the number 7. The bright color leads the audience to consider the symbolism of the sun that surrounds the number.

I symbolized outstanding grades as the sun to appeal to pathos. The sun with the number 7 represents the audiences’ desired grades. The imagery of the sun rising shows that as one sleeps, their desired grade gradually approaches. Through this symbolism, the audience is touched on their hopes of success in their exam. Thus, the poster appeals to pathos.

Finally, I selected the word “rise” in the slogan that shows the sun’s motion to create an optimistic mood. The rising sun illustrates the situation where success in an exam is approaching. Thus, the word “rise” conveys the positive mood that audiences’ hopes are about to be achieved.

Overall, I created a strong emotional connection with the audience to emphasize the importance of sleep, using color, symbolism, and word choice. I hope that students will become aware of the importance of prioritizing sleep on the day before an exam.

Propaganda Poster Analysis Reflection

Considering the posters that we have analyzed as a class, what are some of the key elements of propaganda that they seem to share in common?

Propaganda uses many rhetorical devices to achieve its purpose towards a specified audience. Propaganda techniques include: logos, pathos, ethos, ad hominem, ad populum, etc. They also represent some figures positively and some negatively to convey its message. The posters also use red to represent hope and the positive future. Because red represents communism, it is always present. Chairman Mao is mostly in the center of the poster with a benign facial expression.

 

How are Chinese people represented in them?

Chinese people are represented positively with kindly, determined, glorious facial expressions. They are often the greatest figure illustrated in the poster. They are mostly looking up in the sky to represent the bright future. The poster shows the teeth of the Chinese to show that they are happy. They have their mouth closed to show determination.

 

How are members of other groups being represented?

Americans, who are considered as enemies of the Chinese, are mocked in their position or facial expression. North Koreans, who are considered allies, are illustrated as normal humans, but is still smaller in size than the Chinese. Democratic countries’ people are mocked, while Communist countries’ people are idealized.

Scenic Design Challenge – Technophobia

In the middle of the thrust stage, there is a clear rectangular box with shapes drawn that resemble futuristic screens. An actor would be captured inside the box on the actual performance. There is a large blue circuit board with silver wires and electrical components painted in black, silver, and orange on the floor. The back of the stage is covered with ripped wallpapers of programming codes. A long strip of wire is surrounding the entire set.

I wanted to represent technophobia, a fear of technology, using color and proportions. The stage mainly consists of dark shades of blue and black to evoke ominous emotions. Dark colors often connect with fear and despair, which corresponds to technophobia, as it entails the impression that people cannot control technology. Also, the bright silver and orange colors contrast with the dark colors to show that the circuit board is actively operating despite the fear in the audience. Furthermore, the proportions between the technology and people on the stage show how technology and technological improvements are becoming out of control. Typically, those in control of others are larger to show their authority. In my design, circuit boards, transparent screens, and programming computer screens are more prominent than people on the stage. This illustrates the comparative power in technology and the weakness in people. It represents that technology is in control of humans rather than humans are in control of technology. Since technology is not in people’s control, it naturally creates a fear in the audience that technology is dominating the world. In a rapidly changing society, people fear technology because it is becoming more complex to the extent where only a small group of people can understand and control it. Thus, the unmanageable complexity of technology evokes the emotions of technophobia in the audience. Moreover, the transparent box in the middle of the stage is connected to various parts of the floor. This shows that technology is forcefully gaining information on the person inside the box. Currently, issues regarding privacy in technology are prevalent around the world. Hence, the thought that people’s privacy is not protected and is revealed in the vast world of technology creates fear.

The creation of the circuit board was very successful. I was able to create a floor that resembles a circuit with wires and electrical components. I like the way that I designed the floor to show the connection between different parts. I am also proud that I was able to cut the foam board into circular shapes and create an electrical component. Additionally, I successfully cut the back wall in a shape that is not a plain rectangle to show how objects become distorted when they are feared.

I wish I had created more detail in the circuit board and added a robot hand on the stage. The circuit board is not an accurate representation of a circuit. Hence, I could have worked out a detailed circuit to lead the audience to immerse in the performance. Furthermore, a robot hand could also have enhanced my design. Because a robot hand is commonly thought of when thinking about technology, I could have utilized it to create a more profound sense of fear in the design.

The scenic design challenge helped me to learn the intricate process of setting a theatre performance. It involves a complex planning process and thinking about what the audience would feel and experience through the performance. The theatre process also consists of directing the audience to feel the plot’s emotion. By being actually involved in theatre production, I was able to visualize the theatre process as a whole.

Elements of Scenic Design

Scenic Design – The aspect of a production that gives a sense of ‘space’ or location. Can be realistic or symbolic. Aids in creating ‘atmosphere’.

Mood Board (Concept) – A poster that contains imagery that will help focus the design or conceptual weight of a piece of theater.

Thumbnail Sketch – A quick sketch or drawing that becomes the starting point for a design.

Stage Configuration – The layout of the stage in the theater you are producing the play.

Groundplan/”Birds Eye View” – The top down look of the design. Gives you an idea of WHERE things are on the stage.

Elevation – The FRONT look of the design. Gives you an idea of what you will see when you are looking at the stage.

Flat – A scenic piece that is used to build doorways or walls. Light, flexible, and can be built to order.

Sight Lines – The view of an audience onto the stage. Sight Lines are taken from many different seats to see what they see.

Masking/Masking Flats – Flats or curtains designed to ‘hide’ the elements of the stage we don’t want the audience to see.

Sound Design – Sound Designer

In class we worked on creating a sound design. My sound design was based on a character who was stabbed in a rainy day and was transported to the hospital. Efforts are taken to save his life, but he ends up dying in the busy hospital.

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