Hero, where colors take center stage

Hero is the recollection from a nameless protagonist on how he slayed the Emperor’s assassins, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Long Sky. As the story unfolds, it turns out there is more than meets the eye.

My repertoire of seen Chinese films consists of Steven Chow movies and journey to the west adaptations. That being said, I am fully aware of the Chinese film tropes that litter many of said films. This includes cherry blossoms drizzling down from the sky to the way that every Chinese man and woman alive seems to be martial artist prodigies. Regardless of these cringe-worthy tropes, these films were always a highlight during my annual Chinese new year visits. With such a big name Director Zhang Yimou directing this film, I knew that I was up for a memorable experience.

Steven Chow madness~

Straight off the bat the film screams huge budget. Hordes of soldiers and scholars fill the screen within the first 10 minutes, each one dressed in highly elaborate costumes. The main protagonist enters the throne room and the main motif of the film becomes apparent. The candles surrounding the emperor acts as a detector of human emotion, wafting and sputtering wildly when it senses blood lust. It is even pointed out by the emperor that he is able to discern potential assassins just by studying the candles’ flame.

Truly the Chinese are majestic creatures

The director capitalizes on colors to convey the mood of each scene. In the first flashback, everyone was clad in blood red clothing. This color amplified the impact of the action-packed component because of its intensity. The strong color invokes strong emotions such as passion and anger. This play of color continues on with the following two flashbacks. The second one being blue, a color of tranquillity and peace and white, a neutral color. With the blue themed flashback, barely any conflict occurred. White showed the truth, where both intense and peaceful scenes occurred, devoid of any form of exaggeration. This color coding also serves as a way for viewers to catalogue the scenes, making each scene stand out individually.

What does a color blind person see?

The end of the film shows how our unnamed protagonist sacrifices himself for the unification of China. In this way, it is easy to interpret this move as a message to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet. The message would be that although they may have attained independence, they should acquiesce to Beijing. This is in lieu in Chinese culture where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Please take note this is just my interpretation.

Overall the film was highly engaging with its well- choreography fight scenes and stellar cast of actors/actresses that fully brought the characters to life. A beautiful movie with a deep message, Hero stands out as film to be remembered for ages to come. 9/10

Hope you enjoyed my post!

Enjoyed my post? Leave a comment in the comment section below!  ♪~ ᕕ(ᐛ)ᕗ


5 Replies to “Hero, where colors take center stage”

  1. It’s really great that you pointed out how each colour suited the individual stories. I like that you identified red for its intense scenes, blue for tranquility and white for the truth. The colours do play a huge part on our emotions while watching the film, especially during the red scenes where anger and suspense is present.

    I feel that this film has several hidden messages (of course, this is just how we interpret it). Like you mentioned, the hint to Taiwan, HongKong and Tibet. Personally, I feel that the underlying theme of this film is that sacrifice is necessary for China’s unification. However, he tried to send the message through peace. We can see it in Zhang Yimou’s portrayal of emperor Qin, where he is depicted in a positive light, as a man of great intelligence and emotions. As we know, Qin Shi Huang was always known as a vicious tyrant.

    Excellent analysis of the film, really enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your interpretation of the candles surrounding the King. The line when he said that he is able to discern potential assassins by just studying the candles’ flame gives me the impression that the movie is very poetic and artistic.

    I also like your explanation that this film sends a message to other countries too. I agree that this film has a lot of interpretations. Before reading your review, I thought that this film only gives a message about the history of China, but it turns out that it can be a message to other country as well.
    Nice review, Sean!


  3. Cheerio Shaawn! Absolutely agree with all of your points with regards to the use of colours and the meanings behind all of them. While I did notice that the candles represented something deeper, I simply thought of them as a reflection of Nameless’ state of mind. Your view of them as “detectors of human emotion” intrigued me.

    Really loved the connection you made between the ending of the film and the underlying message it delivered to the countries you have mentioned. There is a strong possibility that it is as such. However as you have mentioned, this is just your interpretation and only the director knows the truth.

    P.S. that last line was meant as a *cough* payback for that comment you made on my “red veil” post *cough*.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with all your points! Especially on the play of colours that they use a lot in this movie according to the scenes. It is different because i rarely see a director that is brave enough to play with the colours which i do not know why considering what Zhang did is breathtakingly beautiful! But i guess that what his signature and speciality.

    Good interpretations about the Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet which i do not really see before i read your thoughts on this. I think the fight scenes also very interesting and make me realize that chinese movies tend to put like a super powers for their warriors so that they can jump around so high and walk on the water.

    Overall, great insights and perspective on this movie! I am looking forward for your next review!


  5. I liked how you reviewed the coloring from Zhang Yi Mou’s Hero. It’s blatantly obvious that colors had much to do with Zhang Yi Mou’s screenplay but he did it in such artistic ways that it seemed to fit well into his movie scenes. Your interpretation of different nationalities was something out of the box and I agreed that such Wuxia movies usually had much-exaggerated fight scenes. Your pinpointing of the underlying message was something which I had taken extra note of while reading through your review. Overall a great piece of detailed review as I would had expected from you.


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