‘Hero’ needs translation
Psychology is a tricky thing. Sometimes it brings adversaries to their knees. Other times it simply bewilders audiences.Throughout “Hero,” Nameless (Jet Li) explains, in Mandarin, to the king of Qin (Chen Daoming) how he used psychology to outwit assassins. But it would have been nice if the subtitles translated not only his words but also his colorful – and symbolic – flashbacks.Like Dan, I knew I missed something while watching “Hero.” I racked my brain to make meaning of the obvious color schemes – I reviewed the chakra system and feng shui principles, I stretched to recall tidbits I picked up from my acupuncturist, I tried to write an ad hoc syllabus for the intro to Asian art class I never took.
But I had as good of a chance figuring out what the colors represented during the fights as I did translating “Kono kuni wa mada …”Movies always rate higher if they leave me with something to think about, but in this case, I had to research the color scheme to inspire deep thoughts. Call me a lazy American, but I don’t think I should have to search the Internet to figure out what the movie meant to portray.In retrospect, a cheat sheet would have enriched my viewing experience. Now I appreciate the deeper message of “Hero.” In essence, it is the lesson of true warriorship.The significance of the warrior’s journey stretched further when I considered Buddhist philosophy. The conflicts begin in red, symbolizing imagination, but isn’t all imagination illusion? The warriors cut through illusion (including perceived reality) until they go beyond truth to enlightenment. In such a state, they attain the ideal they’ve been fighting for all along – peace – and put down their swords.
But without knowing the “ancient Chinese secret” of color, I slumped in my seat, ultimately bored with martial arts scenes that soared with wind and flying warriors. Occasionally the rich cinematography perked up my visual sense; it was like watching poetry in motion. But just like I became frustrated in poetry classes when I couldn’t unlock the mystery, the hidden meaning behind scenery and costumes seeped in red, blue, white and green annoyed me.Then again, had the battles not taken place in every color of the rainbow, the movie would have amounted to a collection of revamped, flying fight scenes.
I bet there’s even deeper meaning following five elements theory, but imdb.com didn’t reveal them.Despite hidden messages, if you like martial arts movies, you’ll probably love “Hero.” If you like art house movies, you’ll probably appreciate “Hero.” And if you like reading subtitles quickly instead of taking in the visuals, “Hero” is for you.You can find Kimberly Nicoletti in a library scouring Asian history books to reveal more “ancient Chinese secrets.” You can leave a message at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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