Examining the Relationship between Fashion and Status in the Last Emperor

The Last Emperor, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, places special emphasis on the ways in which costumes determine an individual’s status in society. The color and cut of the costumes donned by each character helps the viewer to understand the personality of each character. However, the one sequence within the movie that deviates from this motif is the first sequence in which the prisoners of war recognize Phu-yi’s face and bow to him as if he is still on his throne. I argue that the costume Phu-yi wears during this sequence distinguishes him from the other POWs, and that ultimately his position as emperor transcends his current identity as a POW within Maoist China.

When the viewer first sees Phu-yi in The Last Emperor, he is disembarking a train on the Manchuria-Russia border as a prisoner-of-war. Phu-yi has been brought in for detainment and questioning because he is believed to be a counter-revolutionary.

Last Emperor_Off-the-train

(03:17). A still of Phu-yi as he exits the train (http://putlocker.is/watch-the-last-emperor-online-free-putlocker.html)

The setting where the sequence takes place is dark and industrial. The sky is cloudy, the ground is damp, and the POWs are being escorted by soldiers. All officers are wearing dark-green uniforms, and the other POWs are dressed in winter gear in dark green, dark grey, or black. Phu-yi stands our from the crowd because he is wearing business formal clothing in the form of a suit-and-tie. He wears a fedora instead of a fur-lined winter hat, and he is wearing glasses. From this still, the audience can infer that he was an intellectual, or at least worked in white-collar jobs prior to becoming a POW. When he enters the great-hall where the other POWs are waiting, they all turn to stare at him, with wary recognition. Some of the POWs bow towards him even though that is considered disobedience and could lead to death.

bowing down to the prince

People bowing to greet the Emperor as guards take them away. Phu-yi is in the far-right of the frame, watching in disbelief. (http://putlocker.is/watch-the-last-emperor-online-free-putlocker.html)

This is the only time in the film where Phu-yi’s costume did not accurately portray his identity or indicate to people how he should be treated. As a young child in the height of his reign, Phu-yi was best remembered as wearing the yellow imperial robes. In the photo below Pu yi has emerged from the Forbidden City to conduct a ceremony. Historically, the color yellow is reserved for royalty, and is only worn by the emperor.

Emperor emerging from the forbidden city

Emperor emerging from the forbidden city (https://s3.amazonaws.com/criterion-production/stills/5743-62a71c78f340a4150192cf4a0d3899e2/Film_422w_LastEmperor_original.jpg)

Even when Pu yi is forced to evacuate the Forbidden City, he is still recognized as the Emperor in Japan due to his expensive attire. The Last Emperor  proves that costumes are not necessarily indicative of how a character inhabits and navigates the setting around them. The Last Emperor tells Pu yi’s story through flashbacks as he is questioned by the communist army. What matters most for Pu yi is not his current status as a POW, which is implied by the suit he wears entering the prison and the mao suit he is forced to wear during questioning. His story shows that people will remember him as emperor because he served as emperor and wore the robes. His cultural relevance in Chinese collective memory will always command respect from people around him regardless of his official title and the clothing he wears.


Footbinding: A Chinese Cultural Practice Used to Highlight the Uneven Comparisons Between the East and West

Dorothy Ko, in her articles The Body as Attire and Footbinding and Fashion Theory, highlights the problems that result when scholars try to compare cultural practices between the East and the West as they relate to fashion. Ko asserts that the lack of academic and historical information about foot-binding has lead to an oversimplification of the cultural practice and its significance within Chinese society.

In The Body as Attire, Ko explains that our understanding of foot-binding is based off of firsthand accounts of western missionaries who entered China with prejudices about the inferiority of Chinese culture. Their goal upon arriving in China was to expose the horrible aspects of foot-binding and work to abolish the practice altogether, which explains the use of “scientific tone of objective observation” in articles about foot-binding (Ko 9).


Natural Feet v. Bound Feet Comparison (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Natural_vs._bound_feet_comparison,_1902.JPG)

Western missionaries and non-Chinese sociologist failed to understand how foot-binding was the basis of gender identity, cultural identity, and national identity. Foot-binding was part of a woman’s beauty ritual, having unbound feet was considered ugly and uncivilized. Foot-binding embodied wen civility, the highest form of cultural prestige which placed emphasis on concealing the body (Ko 14). Concealment was a form of respect and of self-control. The designs and embellishments on the lotus shoes were a reflection of a woman’s  socioeconomic status. Foot-binding was also an expression of political allegiance and ethnic identity (Ko 17). Chinese people considered groups from other nationalities (i.e. Korea, Japan) barbarians because they did not practice foot binding, which was justification for their imperial conquests (Ko 15). Han-Chinese did not view people from other ethnic groups (i.e. Manchu) as Chinese if they did not bind their feet because their choice was viewed as a lack of appreciation for wen civility.

Footbinding in Fashion Theory focuses more on the early interactions between westerners and Chinese people. Dorothy Ko’s analysis of western observations of foot-binding shows the reader that westerners viewed Chinese fashion as timeless costumes. While western scholars felt as though the Chinese were easier to relate to than other racial/ethnic groups (i.e. blacks, Hispanics), they perceived Western fashion to be more modern.

Wikicommons Foot binding wealthy

Chinese women wearing lotus shoes and long robes (http://factsanddetails.com/media/2/20111104-Wikicommons%20Foot%20binding%20wealthy.jpg)

Westerners believed that Chinese people were similar to them because of their fairer skin and straight hair. However, their observations of Chinese facial features and stature are indicative of racial tensions: “for they are great people, on par with ourselves, but of uglier aspect, with little bit of eyes” (Footbinding in Fashion Theory 9). As a result, westerners observed that Chinese fashion had adopted aspects of western fashion, such as shoe designs and stockings, but saw their creations as unoriginal copies (Footbinding in Fashion Theory 9). Westerners did not believe Chinese fashion was modern there were not as many visible changes in the cut or style of garments as there were in Europe. However, they acknowledged the extent to which fashion was meant to maintain political order and national identity (Footbinding in Fashion Theory 11). Lastly, westerners were perplexed by the idea of wen civility. In attempting to study and observe Chinese people, they were unable to examine unbound feet and rarely saw Chinese women without their makeup and hair done. The inability to fully understand the effects of foot-binding on the physical condition and psyche of Chinese women led to the exoticism of Chinese women as “mysterious” or “unseen”.

Ultimately, Dorothy Ko’s analysis of foot-binding is intended to change the ways in which scholars approach the subject of foot-binding. One has to examine Chinese history and understand how western perceptions of foot-binding have limited our understanding of the complexities of the practice and ways in which it shaped Chinese identity. The goal is not to compare foot-binding with western fashion culture, but view each interpretation of foot-binding as a unique and valid expression of cultural pride and identity formation.

Age & Power: How a 3 Year-Old Boy Ruled China

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The film, The Last Emperor, brings to light the story of the last emperor of China. A significant focus of this movie lies in the time period in which he was taken as a child and put into this life. The three year-old has incredible power and the film does a great job using visual cues to signify this point. Through the Emperor’s robe, the color yellow, the mass amounts of people, and the cricket scene, we can see that the movie did a create job creating a clear contrast between the emperors young age and its incredible power that he has.

The Traditional Emperor Robe:

It’s details: This scene image shows the three year-old Emperor dressed in the traditional robe. The details are extremely intricate and carefully woven, demonstrating high class. It clearly could only be worn by a wealthy member of society.

It’s size: The robe is clearly very large and oversized when put on the Emperor. This highlights the Emperor’s youth and contrast between his young age and the incredible power and influence he already has.

The color yellow: The color yellow is extremely prominent in this photo. There is a lot of yellow in the dress as well as in the background. During this time in China, only leaders could wear yellow. In this photo, this color signifies the power and leadership that the boy has.

The Mass Amounts of People: The second photo shown displays the emperor standing in front of a crowd of thousands of people. The people are lined up in straight lines and all bowing down to him. Again, this symbolizes the vast power and control the emperor has. This photo also does a good job emphasizing how young the boy is by having him stand in front of this large crowd. Every person is bowing down to a three year-old boy, who is perhaps too young to even read. Overall, it shows China’s dedication to tradition and unwavering commitment to their cultural processes.

The Cricket Scene: In the scene with the cricket, the boy Emperor can hear a cricket noise. He walks down the aisle of people bowing down to him in order to find out where the noise is coming from. He finally finds a man who looks like he is from the lower class, based on his raggedy clothes and lack of detail in his overall wardrobe. His face is fascinated when he sees the cricket. This scene further displays the emperor’s youth and his hunger to be a kid. Hearing a cricket and seeking it out allows for the viewer to see his real age being played out. It also brings up sadness in the viewer because it shows a contrast between the live he has to live while being an emperor versus the life he wants to live out as a child.

Each of these photo or scene cues demonstrates a contrast between age and power. The three year-old is so young, naïve, and still has so much to learn, yet he is leader of China.

“In the Mood for Love” and the Gendered Uniforms of Modernity

Kar Wai Wang’s 2000 film In the Mood for Love vividly captures not only a romance between two neighbors who find their spouses in an adulterous relationship, but also the sartorial choices that show Hong Kong in the 1960s caught between East and West.

To make reference to the broader historical framework, Hong Kong developed separately from the rest of China owing to its special relationship with the British who acquired a 99 year lease on the island. While China was in the midsts of communism and famine, Hong Kong stood as a beacon of capitalism and entrepreneurship in the East. Many Western companies set up offices in Hong Kong to have a stake in Asia, but one mediated by a familiar power: the British. The introduction of Western businesses and Western business techniques gave rise to domestic companies owned by citizens of Hong Kong who have made the city a global economic powerhouse with a commanding role in the finance industry.

In the Mood for Love

Despite this Western flair, Hong Kong never completed shed its China roots and this is evident in the 2000 film In the Mood for Love as evidenced in the above scene where Mrs. Chan is saying goodbye to her boss who is leaving to have dinner with his wife. The boss is depicted in a Western style suit with distinctly modern influences. His suit is excellently tailored, perfectly terminating at his shoulders. The sleeves are precisely long enough to reveal the edge of his light blue shirt with French cuffs and the subtle, yet sophisticated cufflinks. His tie features a modern paisley pattern that terminates exactly above his belt buckle that widens ever so slightly as it moves from top to bottom.

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In contrast, one of the few shots where Mr. Chow is fully visible reveals a distinctly different character. His tie, unlike Mrs. Chan’s boss visibly clashes with his shirt. Furthermore, it is far wider at the bottom than at the top. Such is a fashion style commonly associated with a tacky used car salesman. Finally, he is tied it inappropriately such that it falls when standing where his zipper begins rather than where ending above his belt buckle as shown by Mrs. Chan’s boss.

What this suggests is an incomplete adoption of Western fashion trends that unfolds along class lines. Her boss, the owner of a successful import/export business whose business spans across the globe likely has both the exposure to Westerners through business meetings and the financial resources to appropriately wear Western clothing. Mr. Chow, a low level functionary at a print company, likely has little exposure to such people and his needing to rent a room speaks to lacking much disposable income. What matters for Mr. Chow, who is an archetypal common white collar male in 1960s Hong Kong, is the appearance of being Western rather than complete adoption of their sartorial forms.

Both Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan’s boss’s clothing choices stand in stark contrast to hers. She is seen wearing a high collared Qipao that evokes images of Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. Unlike them, however, her clothing features very rich and vibrant colors of purple and yellow in complex flowing patterns. Such complex patterning is made possible by dyes and techniques of modern clothing manufacturing. Furthermore, it is sleeveless. The lack of sleeves, vibrant colors speak to a marked departure from early Qipao styles dominated by floral images, the color red and short sleeves. She is also seen later carrying a western style not unlike those you would see sold today in Western department stores and boutiques.

The juxtaposition of these three characters reveal is the complex identity of Hong Kong during the 1960s as it straddled East and West culturally, independent of China. The highest members of society, symbolized by Mrs. Chan’s boss, had the cultural knowledge and financial resources to perfectly mimic Western fashion styles. When juxtaposed with the lowly Mr. Chow who poorly pulls off a Western look, it is clear that the aspiration of Chinese men as they became more successful was to look more perfectly Western in their clothing choices. Mrs. Chan stands in contrast throughout the filming by always wearing Qipaos rather than Western dresses. Although they are clearly influenced by Western designs by abandoning the design elements of the 1920s and 1930s, women nevertheless attempted to preserve the traditional clothing style. Thus, it can be seen that modernity as imagined by women in the 1960s consisted of subsuming Western materials, patterns and manufacturing techniques within the traditional qipao style.


Movie Analyze: The Last Emperor

The movie, The Last Emperor, follows the life story of the last emperor of china. The interesting thing about this emperoUntitledr is he was taken from his home and appointed at the young age of three. A critical aspect of the film is how the emperor’s clothing changes over time in relation to the events that occur around him. To start off, lets begin with the first picture. We see in this picture the three-year-old emperor at his coronation ceremony. He is dressed in traditional Chinese emperor attire that entails the robe, hat and the color yellow. The color yellow is  significant because in traditional Chinese culture only the emperor could wear yellow. By him wearing yellow we see that Chinese traditions are still in tacked in this section of the film.   Another thing to take notice of in the emperor’s outfit is how large it is. It is interesting to see such a small child in the attire an older man would wear. The proportions facilitate the strangeness of such a young child becoming the ruler of an empire. The next picture is a snap shot of the grown emperor, his wife, and his mistress in a car no longer in the Forbidden City. Thwese emperor is wearing a European traditional black and white tuxedo. His women are wearing traditional western dresses and accessories. This outfit change is very noteworthy. We see here that the three are totally disconnected to there traditional past in this point of time. They are no longer in the Forbidden City and have since broken away from that lifestyle. A few more things to notice about the outfits in this scene are the emperor’s glasses and his short hair cut. In traditional Chinese culture the emperor would never wear glasses and never cut his hair. The fact that he has done both shows that he has left his role of emperor in the past and trying to assimilate into western culture. By looking at the contrast of the first and second pictures we can see the transition the emperor had to make as he was kick out of his empirical home. Outfit choices in movies help aid the story line and bring forth important ideas that that are not necessarily spoken.

denotation is plenty and need more connotative comments

Contrasting Colors, Contrasting Moods

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.37.32 AMMaggie-Cheungs-costumes-In-The-Mood-for-Love-3-e1380792319193

In her piece, “Surface, Fabric, Weave: The Fashioned World of Wong Kar-Wai,” Giuliana Bruno discusses how costume design in “In The Mood For Love” is a deliberately aesthetic choice as a complement to the surrounding set. Fashion, color, and texture act as a subconscious means of creating moods and feelings within the audience. In the above mis en scenes, film producers in “In The Mood For Love” uses two different Qipaos to reflect main character, Maggie’s, emotions to the audience. In the first scene, Maggie somberly retrieves noodles from a noodle bar in a mute-toned qipao in which she runs into her neighbor. Later in the film, Maggie accompanies her neighbor to dinner in a quote differently styled qipao; one of bright colors and patterns.

The images exemplify how fashion aesthetics act as an art form to engage space and color in the film to depict the mood of the character within the scene. When viewing the above mis en scenes in “The Mood For Love,” one can compare differences between the two photos through their similarities in an attempt to determine the mood of the scene.


  • Scene 1- In the first mis en scene Maggie wears a qipao of subdued colors that reflect a sense of loneliness and withdrawal.  Maggie lethargically meanders into the takeout noodle bar, and though she appears graceful and walks steadfast, the qipao she wears tells the story of pain and a cheating husband. No words are spoken in this scene, however the color of the qipao successfully exudes Maggie’s present mood as one forlornness and dull heartache.
  • Scene 2- In the second scene, Maggie’s qipao is bright, almost neon, and patterned.  Though Maggie again ventures to eat noodles, the mood is more energetic than the aforementioned scene. Maggie’s dress reflects a zealousness that was absent in the 1st scene, as new romance makes her more spirited and lively.

The Male Figure:

  • Scene 1- The male figure, Maggie’s neighbor and love interest, is a key similarity in both scenes.  In the first scene, the two are just meeting, and an impeding connection is felt between the pair.  They both exude a similar sadness in this scene that foreshadows their attraction.
  • Scene 2- Maggie’s love interest is closer to Maggie in this scene, and his body is now faced toward hers, suggesting an opening up of emotions and deepening of their relationship.  Similar to clothing, body language acts as an aesthetic art form that displays unseen thoughts of the characters or rather, their inner feelings.

Space and Texture (Wall): 

  • Scene 1- Maggie, in her neutral qipao, becomes “one” with a plain, dark wall, blending into its shadows.  This suggests that Maggie has fallen into the shadows and textures of the wall in a mood of somberness.  She cowers slightly into the wall, but despite her camouflaging, Maggie still makes a connection with her love interest.
  • Scene 2- Again, Maggie matches the wall behind her, however, this wall is colorful and flashy; a kaleidoscope of more vivid and vibrant emotions.  She does not cower against the wall in this scene, but outshines it in its exuberance.  This greater suggests how Maggie’s mood has transformed and become brighter as her relationship has flourished.

In conclusion, the constants in these scenes (clothing, man, wall) reflect how Maggie’s inner emotions and mood have grown and transformed as her relationship has become more in depth throughout the passage of time.

well analyzed sequence and persuasive connotations

Identity in “The Last Emperor”

Screenshot (3)

This photo is a screenshot from the film “The Last Emperor.” In this photo, the former Emperor of China, Puyi, is now  a Chinese citizen and a gardener. Throughout the film Puyi’s status and identity has been translated to the audience through his costume. Through elements of mise-en-scene, color and formation regarding Puyi’s outfit, the filmmakers argue that in order for Puyi to come to find his own identity, he has to remove himself from political, social and economic affiliations. good point

In the prior scene, Puyi is released from prison and granted citizenship in the Peoples Republic of China. The next scene cuts to Puyi working in the garden, and in the screenshot I selected, we see Puyi walking in the garden. The garden itself is lush, green and full of life, which is contrasted by Puyi’s all grey Mao Suit.  I interpreted this scene as the garden represented Puyi’s inner self that isn’t represented by his costume. Puyi finally feels tranquil and at peace, as seen in the tranquility of the garden. This is paralleled by the outward representation of lack of color in Puyi’s costume. Although the filmmakers wanted to contrast Puyi’s costume with his surroundings, in this screenshot Puyi almost appears apart of the background. The filmmakers wanted to emphasize that Puyi’s true internal identity is not represented by his many different costumes, but instead comes from him being at peace with his external surroundings.

The Mao Suit that Puyi wears in this scene is grey and also lacks the armband and book that is seen with the Red Guards of the following scene. In Mao’s China, the traditional Mao Suit was either grey or blue. The filmmakers chose to use a grey suit to further disconnect Puyi from a class hierarchy. By choosing grey over blue, the filmmakers also further emphasize the plainness and lack of color displayed by the suit. The filmmakers choice to dress Puyi in a colorless, plain Mao suit was in effort to strip any sort of identification recognizable from an external viewpoint. This furthers the message of internal identity as opposed to a costume determining Puyi’s  identity for him.

The Mao Suit that Puyi wears is also restrictive when compared to the flowing nature of the Imperial robes he wore when he was a child Emperor. The restrictive nature of the Mao Suit is a symbol of the lack of control Puyi now has over external instances. However, the flowing robes Puyi wore as a child allowed for movement demonstrating the free-flowing ability ??? the child had over his surroundings. Puyi’s inability to control the issues around him, as represented by the Mao suit, further demonstrate the focus on internal understanding of identity.

The all grey, formfitting Mao Suit worn by Puyi in this scene struggles to show any political, economic or social denotations. However, it is only in these final scenes where Puyi is able to feel at peace with his own identity. This shows that the filmmakers wanted to emphasize that true identity comes from within. This could also be seen as a Western criticism of both Imperial and Communist China, seeing as the Puyi only found peace when he wasn’t affiliated with either of them.

detailed reading of the grey Mao suite and Puyi’s inner identity

Qipao’s Significance in “In the Mood for Love”

In Wong Kar-Wai’s film, In the Mood for Love, Maggie Cheung is seen in more than 20 different Qipaos. Each Qipao that is worn in the movie is specifically crafted for each scene and is perfectly tailored to Maggie Cheung’s body. Although the Qipao is only a costume in the film, it actually is more than just a costume. The Qipao in Wong Kar-Wai’s film is used as a mode for time and mood for each scene in the film. In Giuliana Bruno’s article, Surface, Fabric, Weave: The fashioned World of Wong Kar-wai, Bruno argues that fashion is an art form in the sense that it’s considered a form of imaging similar to a painting or photograph. With this in mind, it is clear while watching the film that Wong Kar-Wai uses the QiPao as an “aesthetic form of Visual fabrication” that is in-sync with the history of visual culture.

Picture captured from late scene in the Film

Picture captured from late scene in the Film

In the film, Mr. Chow (Tony Chiu Wai Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) found out that their spouses are having an affair with each other. However, neither of those characters are shown during the movie keeping the focus on the two victims of this affair, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan. Furthermore, the majority of the film is focused around Mrs. Chan’s Qipao. Every time Mrs. Chan is seen, she is wearing a Qipao, which brings to light Mrs. Chan’s beauty, femininity, and sexuality. The color of the Qipao, like a mood ring, indicates what mood she is in, but also the mood of the scene. So, when Mrs. Chan is seen wearing a simple, or colorless Qipao, she is concealing herself and gives off a conservative attitude, which is in contrast with the Qipao’s historical and cultural connotation. But, when Mrs. Chan is in a more colorful Qipao, she steals the focus of the audience, furthermore drawing the attention of Mr. Chow. cite a visual evidence

The Qipaos that Mrs. Chan wears indicate a change in time. Because the film jumps around from moment to moment with no indication of time change, it is difficult for the audience to know the context of when these actions are taking place. But, thanks to the different Qipaos worn, it is clear to us that it is a new day or moment because Mrs. Chan is wearing a different QiPao. need a visual evidence

Maggie Cheung’s face throughout the film is also very simple, making sure not to show her emotion through her facial expressions, but rather have the audience interpret and understand her emotions and thoughts through her costume in that scene. After Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan end their affair, Mrs. Chan tells Mr. Chow to never look at her again. This is a great example of how the Qipao is used. As she tells him this, she is wearing a colorful Qipao, which was previously an indicator of her happiness, but also that she was trying to attract Mr. Chow. So, when she tells him to never look at her again, we can assume that the beauty and elegance of the Qipao is the reason Mr. Chow was so attracted and enamored with her.

Fashion put aside, the music of this film also played a significant role. In the film, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan role played as each other’s spouses in an attempt to figure out how their spouses’ affair began. In multiple scenes, the same music is played as Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow come in contact with each other. This music is an indicator of the heightening of their affair. Also since they are trying to figure out how their spouses’ affair started, the music can also indicate a moment their spouses shared in the beginning stages of their affair. focus on qipao as there is no enough room for music

a nice work, Ejazz 

Hero: The Color White is Pure


Photo taken from the movie Hero by Zhang Yimou.

In the movie Hero the same portion of a story is told four times, each time with a different color (red, blue, green, and white) and a slightly different plot to the story. Each time the story is told the main characters, Flying Snow and Brocken Sword have a different relationship and their actions in the story are different.

For the final scene, they wear white and they are purely together as they die and things become calm and simple, as seen through the color white.

Denotations: In the scene Brocken Sword had just died or is in the process of dying white the sword in his chest. Flying Snow calmly talks to a dying Brocken Sword saying that they will be going home, and Flying Snow kills herself with the sword that is killing Brocken Sword. The film also cuts to where Nameless is confronting the king and in that chaotic part of the scene there is all black. Lastly the backdrop for the white scene is the natural dessert landscape instead of the colored backdrops for the other colors such as in the red scene all of the leaves building being red.

Connotations: Although Flying Snow was the one to kill Brocken Sword when she charged at him, he took the hit, completely giving into the blow and not trying to block himself with his own sword. He calmly let into death. Looking more closely at the last part of the scene where Flying Snow is whispering to Brocken Sword telling him how they are going home together. There is a calm in the part of the movie even though she had killed her lover she is calm as she believes that they will travel together home. Also to bring in the natural landscape (as this white scene is the only one to have the natural setting), when Flying Snow says they are going home, that home is that they are returning to is the nature as represented in the natural background. The white robs that they are wearing represents the purity. Yes Flying Snow kills Brocken Sword but as they die they are finally together, deigning together with the one that they love and at peace with that. This is seen in the way that Brocken Sword does not fight Flying Snow and instead lets him kill her. He is giving into the one he loves because he would rather die than fight her back. Together they are dying by the same sword yet they could not look more peaceful and pure as they sit together with the wind moving their spotless white robes. It inflicts the pure calming feeling even after the deaths of two lovers.

focus is set and well maintained


Contrast in Color Reflecting the Conflict in the Narrative

Courtney Gallagher

Hero: Red Leaves Scene

Fashion & Gender in China: Professor Tsui


In this film sequence, the conflicting colors of the setting, gold and red, mirror the conflict between Flying Snow and Moon over Broken Sword’s love. When the conflict between Flying Snow and Moon is resolved by the death of Moon, so does the conflict in the colors of the setting, as the setting changes to only red. The colors of the setting in this film excerpt, therefore, work to highlight the tension and subsequent resolution in the narrative.


Conflict in Setting Color (Gold/Red), Conflict Between Flying Snow & Moon

The color contrasts that consume the beginning of this film sequence reveal the conflict between Flying Snow and Moon. Flying Snow and Moon’s red dress creates a contrast between the gold leaves in the setting around them. The gold of the setting brings to light, and highlights the betrayal, jealousy, and anger felt by both of these women [shown by their red dresses], as they compete for Broken Sword’s love. Although there seems to be a visual similarity between these two women, as both wear red dresses, their dresses present very different meanings. Flying Snow’s dress is a rich, brilliant red, flowing smoothly in the wind. On the other hand, Moon’s dress is flimsy, faded red. The contrast between their red dresses is representative of Flying Snow’s high social status and Moon’s lower status of servitude. It also shows the contrast between their anger. While Flying Snow’s anger arises from a sense of betrayal, Moon’s arises from a feeling of jealousy. The contrasting nature of the two women is further presented when Flying Snow and Moon are fighting one another [using kung-fu]. Snow fights Moon with ease and grace, while Moon struggles clumsily. During the fight, the golden leaves are blowing in the wind, seemingly attacking Moon for most of the sequence, fighting against and attempting to resolve the existing contrasts and conflicts.


Resolution of Setting Color (Red), Resolution of Conflict


The contrast in the color dissolves with the death of Moon. As Moon’s [red] blood drips onto the leafy ground, it morphs everything to red. The red that it turns is brilliant and rich—just like Flying Snow’s dress—exhibiting her valor. Moon’s death, which was signified by the drop of blood from the sword, signified the “death of the conflict.” Both the resolution of the conflict, and resolution of the color, takes place with the death of Moon. The once violent, golden leaves now seem at ease, simply falling from the trees and flowing with the wind. The death of the conflict transformed this red into a sign of victory and love for which Flying Snow successfully fought. In this way, the scenery is a reflection of Flying Snow’s victory, and the death of a great betrayal.


In short, Flying Snow and Moon’s fight for love was resolved by Moon’s death, which was reinforced by the scenery’s colors. The original contrast of the red and gold colors of the scenery was resolved at the moment of Moon’s death. In the end, Moon’s jealousy, borne of unrequited love, was overcome by Flying Snow’s true love for Broken Sword.

“death of the conflict” is a brilliant idea