Study of Spaces – Screen Based

G E O R G E S   M É L I È S   –   L E   V O Y A G E   D A N S   L A   L U N E 

I can’t recall when I first encountered Georges Méliès, but I was reintroduced to him and his works through the movie Hugo, which was directed by Martin Scorsese. I’m not entirely sure how accurate the information presented on Méliès was on the movie, but it did give quite a bit of insight of how Méliès was said to work. I felt that the reproductions of his sets and some behind the scenes of his films gave an apt visual to the documentation of his processes.

One of the forefronts for science fiction, Méliès started off as a magician, an illusionist. When he encountered the Lumiere Brothers’ film, which at that time showed only scenes of real life with motion, Méliès immediately saw its potential to experiment further.  I feel that he brought over his interests from creating illusions in real life, to creating illusions on screen. This was novel at the time, and pushed the boundaries of filmmaking.

P E R C E P T U A L 

A lot of Georges Méliès’s films are fantastical, they are fictional dreams brought into reality, with early VFX that brought what was once impossible into vision. He was already doing this in his performances as a magician, and his mind as an inventor helped him demonstrate his illusions, however the camera and film helped him bring his work to another level. He was able to have more control over the final piece, without the limitations of a live performance.

He cut the films and pasted them back together, pioneering film trickery, or effects as now known, he had crew to paint over each and every frame, he built a whole glass enclosed studio, he housed over 20 000 costumes, he was over the top and it was awesome.

Bringing his stories across, the viewers are able to enjoy the effects created, and their emotional states are invested since they are introduced to a new form of entertainment.

The films were not made with the point of replicating reality, so there is a fun element to it, with the expressions and body gestures of the actors amplifying the scenes with their interactions with the sets and props.

This is especially more so because the movies were silent, with no dialogue. Hence, the narrative had to be delivered through visuals and music alone.


In his glass studio, he created elaborate sets that are many times almost dream-like. These are very similar to stage design. It is as if they were for stage performances and theatre, but recorded instead. These were what early sound stages were like. This way, he was able to explore the mise-en-scène and cinematography of his works.

In such a limited space, Méliès was able to create a sense of depth and volume by playing with planes and scale. By using elevated, depressed and overhead planes, he was able to redefine the space according to the kinds of settings he was going for. This creates a believable space in which the viewers could imagine the three dimensionality and the extension of the space beyond the frame.

C U L T U R A L 

At the time, films were only starting to get popular after its invention. Even though the Lumière brothers stated that the cinema was an invention with no future, they were proved wrong as it has now developed into one of the most prominent mediums of expression in history, with advancements continuously being made and boundaries continuously broken and redefined.

I found this a good short read on the early start of cinema, and what the culture was like, defined by different takes by different artists, inventors and filmmakers.

In Le Voyage Dans La Lune, the culture of theatre and fantasies was showcased through the idea of heading towards the moon and finding extra terrestrial creatures.


While films do not create an immersive physical space for the viewers, I think that when done right, it could create an immersive mental space, when viewers are engaged in the film and can feel themselves in it. I think that Georges Méliès was able to do this in this film, as he made people and sets and movements that were understandable and relatable.

I also feel that the sense of wonder also creates another effect that engages the audience’s imagination, just like how one could be engaged through the words in a book.

Blade Runner – How Dialogue Delivers Message

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Blade Runner is a sci-fi classic that addresses an age-old debate about the ethics behind artificial intelligence. It’s a simple storyline presented in a slightly confusing manner. I have to admit, it was a little bit difficult to grasp what was going on at first.

Essentially, blade runners are these sort of robot assassins (humans who exterminate robots). Humanoid bioengineered robots, called “replicants”, are stationed in other planets too dangerous for humans to work. They have a lifespan of 4 years in order to avoid them further developing their own emotional responses. Aware of their mortality, replicants started escaping to Earth to try to extend their lives. Blade runners are then engaged to “retire” these escapees.

The film follows a tired ex-cop on his supposedly last blade runner job. He is tasked to hunt down 4 runaway replicants. Throughout the movie, the audience is weighed down with questions of humanity and ethics, as the replicants are hauntingly very human-like, with as much want to live as we do.

Ultimately, I think that the central theme of Blade Runner is humanity. What makes a human human? In the film, the Voight-Kampff test, an empathy test, is used to distinguish replicants from humans.

However, the replicants appear to care for each other and are worried of each others’ lives, doing anything to survive. This is juxtaposed against human characters who are cold and seem to have no compassion.

Here are a few dialogue parts or scenes which I feel stood out in highlighting the film’s idea about humanity and technology.

Ok so I find it interesting that at first, the movie establishes the replicants as cold-hearted, violent and destructive. The dialogue here reveals not only background information about the replicants’ origins to the audience, but also shows the clear division between the scared old man, who is human, and the cold-hearted, manipulative and emotionless Roy and Leon, who are replicants.

This is the first scene in which it is revealed how replicants, specifically the newer models, are very capable of human emotions. This establishes a dilemma of their identity and their rights. Rachael desperately reasons that she is human, and provides proof, only to be shot down by Deckard who reveals the truth behind her memories. She tears up, which is unlikely of a robot.

In this next scene, Pris, a pleasure replicant, meets J.F. Sebastian, a genetic designer whose life is also cut short due to an illness that progresses aging. The way that Pris was hiding in the trash not only induces compassion from the viewers, but also, I feel, is an illustration of how the humans in the film consider replicants like her as trash and are disposable.


One of the most visually stunning parts of the film. Also very dramatically shows how Zhora, a replicant, flees for her life as a cold, lifeless mob of people look on and go about their dreary lives. She seems to be bursting with life in her final moments, breaking through multiple glass windows, adding to the drama.

One of my favorite scenes. I think the monologue was delivered really well. Roy accepts his fate and dies, and although he has been the main antagonist throughout the film, I can’t help but be emotionally scarred because of his death. This ties back to the theme of humanity. What does it mean to be human? Our emotions? Our actions? Our experiences? Our history?

It also messes with my brain and heart as I struggle to make sense of the ethics behind artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. What if this really comes true in the future? How do we establish boundaries? Ah, headache.

All in all, I think that the film made good use of all of its elements to deliver their message. From the portrayal of characters, their interaction with each other and not to mention the style and props and lighting to enhance the moods or infuse emotion to the scenes, viewers are brought into a possible future and made to reflect on their own humanity.

There were more dialogue scenes that revealed information about the characters, story and theme, but writing everything would probably be one super long essay. But yeah, here are a few of the scenes which I thought were pretty good!

4D (II) Project 1: Alter Egos – Miss You Process and Execution

How do I see the world? What am I looking for? How do I define myself?

Three very difficult questions.


Many stories were written based on the author’s experiences. These stories feel more authentic and believable because they are based on actual thoughts and feelings on issues that matter to the author. Through this project, we are expected to develop characters that resonate to us and to use central issues in our lives in our story telling.

Easy at first glance, but extremely difficult when attempted. I have always perceived myself as an open book. But am I? There are things that I thought I would be comfortable to share with anyone, yet I still hesitate. Then again, I can talk about my problems to strangers and be fine with it (and half-regretting it later). 

The point is. Am I ready to delve into issues that actually matter to me? Truth is, I’m scared. I’ve always been an escapist. Instead of tackling my problems head on, I conveniently run away. Even up till this point, I’m still hesitating. 

Irregardless, here is me listing down characters that intrigue me or that I like.



The Little Prince – The Little Prince
I loved this book (now also an animated film) ever since I first read it for my literature class back in Secondary 1 in Indonesia. The book exposes the many facets of “adult” behaviour through the lens of a child-like narrator.
The Little Prince is naive, imaginative and pure in a world where adults strive for adult things. In his own little world he manages a routine that is important to him, and in his journey he meets adults who have their own superficial priorities.

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Sakura Mikan
 – Alice Academy

Alice Academy is a manga written and illustrated by Higuchi Tachibana. I grew up reading and loving these types of stories where the characters are young and have a special power in school settings.

Mikan is the main protagonist. She is bubbly, optimistic, good-natured and determined, but clumsy and foolish at times. Despite her background growing up with her grandfather and no parents, she has a positive outlook and treasures her friends like family. She is courageous and would always stand up for her friends. 

Mathilda Lando – Léon The Professional
I really like this film for its heartfelt showcase of humanity and love in unlikely characters, and of how unfair the world is. Also the band Alt-j made songs based on this film which I listened to before watching this. I was completely dumbfounded when I saw the scenes where the lyrics were taken from as I could instantly make the connection (OMG THIS IS WHERE THEY GOT IT FROM).
Mathilda is young, but she is forced to mature beyond her age as she attempts to avenge the death of her brother (and perhaps her family, although it was dysfunctional). She puts up a brave front and finds a father figure in Léon.

Hugo Cabret – Hugo
Hugo is a movie based on an American historical fiction novel written by Brian Selznick. Martin Scorcese’s take on Hugo is visually stunning and the world of Hugo Cabret is a mystical one for me.
Hugo Cabret is an orphan living in the walls of a Paris train station (love the idea of secret spaces). He is secretive and anonymous, and has a great goal to achieve: bringing his late dad’s automaton to life. While he is not exactly a role model, his actions are driven by circumstance and in searching for answers and a connection with his father, he is bold and unstoppable.

Sadie Kane – The Kane Chronicles

Like I said, I like stories with gifted children in fantasy settings that intertwine with the normal world. Peppered with Egyptian mythology and teen angst, this Rick Riordan series is one such story.
Sadie grew up apart from her father and twin brother after their mother’s death. I liked her being of mixed-ethnicity, that she has a twin, and that she has magical powers. I also related to her want of being closer to her father and brother but not very outwardly showing this.



Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter who remained unknown and poor until after his death. He struggled with mental illness and died at the young age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I like how he could express himself through his art and how the circumstances he was in and the state of his fragile mind was reflected in his paintings. Similarly, I would like to be able to express myself through my art.

Nyle DiMarco
Nyle was the first deaf winner of both America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With the Stars, two popular American TV shows. Despite being born with a disability, he could still accomplish his goals and to top it all off, he is also very sweet and down to earth.

Anna Akana
Anna is a Youtube personality who not only makes video content, but also writes, produces, directs and acts in her own short films. She is also a comedian and performs stand-ups, while managing her own clothing line. I admire her for having the willpower and determination to overcome her obstacles (her sister Kristina committed suicide and she herself struggles with anxiety and panic attacks) and achieve the things she wants in life.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok)

Ahok is the current governor of Jakarta, the second with Chinese ancestry and also the second who is Christian. In a largely Muslim society, he has faced his own share of racism and groundless opposition from extremists. However, he is headstrong in his conviction and exercises his plans as promised, while also being personable. He is known to be forthright, harsh, and iron-willed, facing corruption and other issues head-on effectively, in comparison to previous corruption-laden administrations.

Bethany Hamilton

Bethany is a professional surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack. Despite this, she was able to eventually return to professional surfing – and emerging victorious at that. Her love for surfing and the sea was greater than the obstacle she faced at the time, and along with her unfaltering faith, she managed to rise back up from despair.



My reason of being.


Grew up with a disability and lack of understanding from people, especially his family.

My constants, though we are all in different countries now and rarely stay in contact.

My circle of support who shaped me to become who I am in Singapore.

School caretaker and operations manager (sorta) in his 60s (I guess) whom I’ve known since Primary 2. Lives in school with no wife or children. Cares for me like his own child, but since going to Singapore I’ve rarely seen him.

OK so things are going to get  p e r s o n a l.


I find that I have an affinity for a variety of characters.

Some have otherworldly powers and abilities, which reflect my constant day-dreaming of having a power that nobody else knows about. (Mikan, Sadie, The Little Prince) On a deeper level, this also reflects how mediocre I feel in the world and compared to those around me.

I also find that I am fascinated by characters who are weighed down by less-than-fortunate circumstances, whether it being an accident, a disability, or an illness. (Van Gogh, Nyle, Bethany, RK) These are very brave people, I feel, that they are able to face the world like everyone else. From my close interaction with RK, I know that it is definitely not easy, and behind the smiles there might be way more tears – but they endure it nonetheless. I applaud these people – their courage inspires me and pushes me to always try to overcome my own obstacles.

Lastly, and maybe most personally, I also find that I am drawn to characters who have lost their father or lack a father figure, or figures who are dependable, strong and caring. (Mathilda, Hugo, Sadie, Ahok, OA) Thankfully, I still have my father around, but growing up, I resented him. I do realise that he is still my father nonetheless and have learnt to love him in recent years. However, I did not realise that I’ve grown apart from him. There is this huge feeling of disconnect, no matter how much I try to establish rapport (or maybe I don’t even try). It slightly bothers me how I’m not entirely comfortable with my own father, and that I might actually don’t really care anyways. I realise that I subconsciously look for a replacement figure and like figures who are dependable and strong.



Here are three profiled characters from each list.

(Disclaimer: Profiling of real life characters are based on my own observations and the internet, they are not reflective of how these people truly are)



I find it fascinating how true it is that we are attracted to, subconsciously or not, characters that resonate with us.

Writing this wasn’t easy because I had to deal with some very personal issues. I rewrote sentences many times and deleted paragraphs when I felt too exposed. I considered approaching another topic that I still cared about, but it didn’t feel.. right. This may be a very small attempt to address the issues that matter to me and bother me, but I hope that it opens up new possibilities and help me understand my own thoughts and feelings about the matter.


Initially, I wanted to have a story set first and a general idea of what kind of look I wanted it to have, inspired by some films.

From all of the above scenes, I really love their common use of metaphors. While used and presented in different ways, they really brought out the mood and the meaning of the scene better. They also reveal parts of the protagonist in hints.

I kept in mind what we learnt in our first lesson about creating films where all the elements point back to its main message. (Dialogue, subtext, mise en scene, props/metaphors, etc). I had a few ideas on how I wanted the 1 min dialogue to be like.

However, I became stuck when wanting to finalise the script and the story idea. I felt like the characters were flat and not well defined. I paused and tried to research on how to write good dialogue. 

I found these quite helpful.

I remembered the clip of the man and the nun Ruyi showed us on the first lesson. We can learn so much about the protagonist even though he barely says a word. This, I realise, is achieved through illumination by the sub-character’s dialogue and actions, and the protagonist’s reactions.

I am also reminded of this movie that I watched upon reading my senior’s post. It really is an impactful scene that not only describes the relationship between the two characters, but also reveals the protagonist’s flaws and acts as a turning point in the film. And again, the protagonist barely says a word! 

From these two scenes, I realised that dialogue does not need to be complicated or fancy. As how interaction is in real life, we find out more about a person from natural conversation and questions. Action and reaction. I also decided to develop the dialogue by using the character profiles, instead of jumping straight to the story only. 

So, I already had a theme in mind: Family relationships. I decided to develop two original characters based on the two detailed character profiles I made on Hugo and Anna, altering and adding in traits from other characters to fully deliver my theme. 

The main thing that I wanted to show was that the protagonist misses her family. In this scene, I wanted to reveal how the protagonist was so occupied with her academics that she rarely contacts her family. However, she doesn’t express this outwardly. To highlight this, the other character had to be contrasting, i.e. has a close relationship with her family. 


The next step is to decide how to show this. I wanted the sub-character’s dialogue to reveal the protagonist’s feelings. Yet, how do I make it such that it is not obvious? 

I’m an international student myself, who has grown up away from my family. I felt that I haven’t been contacting my family as often as some of my previous roommates. This is where the idea came from: The two characters could be roommates, and through B’s phone call home and conversation with her family, La’s hidden longing for her family could be revealed through her reactions.

From here, I developed the script surrounding the idea of La listening to a phone conversation between B and her family. However, I felt that it wasn’t enough to show La’s longing. 

In the end I decided to have a preceding dialogue which shows how La hasn’t been visiting home for a long time. This will hopefully intensify the scene. 




I asked my roommate to act with me so that it would be more natural. Coincidentally, she was also my roommate when I was in secondary school. 

At first I wanted to shoot on the bed area but in the end I chose to use our desk setting because I thought that using symmetry, similar to Wes Anderson films, could amplify the contrast between the two characters.

I rearranged items on our desks, taking away things that were too distracting (because of the colour), and adding things to illustrate each character’s personality. 

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The protagonist’s side is filled with projects, books, and her laptop. Monthly planners are pinned up, and no pictures are seen except for a poster of an ice cave. I also changed the desktop background to a dark colour because the previous lighter colour was too distracting. 

The roommate’s side, on the other hand, is filled with pictures, soft toys and memorabilia. There is almost no sign of school-related things except for the neat organiser at the corner. 

By doing this, I hope to highlight how disconnected the protagonist is from her family by providing a contrasting character right next to her. 

I originally took 4 different angles.

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However, while editing I found it difficult to piece up together, and it was becoming a little too distracting for such a short dialogue. I decided to take a step back, keep it simple and re-shot with just two angles. One from the back and another to show my facial reactions. As for the bathroom scenes, I kept it at one frontal shot, one mirror shot and one top-down shot for the ending. 


Editing was basically me warming up to Premiere Pro again. Anything I couldn’t do I Googled and it was okay. I also borrowed the Zoom recorder from school and used it to record good audio.

I hunted for appropriate music and tracks. Since it was unproductive and I couldn’t really find anything that fits, I decided to try looking from the pool of music that I already knew. I wanted a piano sort of beat at the start and so started listening through Tom Rosenthal’s music. I eventually found “The Snow”, whose intro was exactly what I wanted to use. For the last part, I was listening to Dessert’s songs when I realised that the lyrics of “Back Around” were somehow fitting to my character.

I was born to tell a lie, I could never change your mind, even when I tell the truth, there is nothing I can do, nothing I can do

She isn’t honest with her feelings, so she “tells a lie”, and there is seemingly nothing she can do about her dilemma of focusing on her academics but also missing her family. 


Overall, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done for this project. I’ve learnt so many things, from how to make a good film/story, how to put forth a theme in a story, to how important it is to have characters who are real, because they make the story so much more engaging, relatable and believable. I tried my best in applying all of this in my work.

Another important thing that I took away from this project is my finding out the issues or topics that matter to me. I realise that while I am concerned or interested in relationships between father and children, or how disabled people can go about their daily lives, the general idea is that I am interested in human relationships. This was a Eureka moment for me. I realise that what I am essentially interested in is the dynamics of human interaction and how this affects every single individual.

Well, I’m glad good things came out of this project and hopefully this will carry on to future projects.

Thanks for reading!

Watch the final product in my final post!



P.S. After more than half a year of not going home, I will be enjoying my time with my family during recess week 🙂


2D Project 2: Forrest Gump – I Think I’m Kind of Falling in Love with You

I find it a little hard to believe that the project we just finished was only the second one. It felt as if we have been doing this forever. Albeit it being a challenging project, I had lots of fun, and am happy that I finally got to try my hands on silkscreening.

On this post, I will be giving a summary of my four compositions and an explanation of the overall concept. Enjoy!



The main concept for this project is the relationship between Leon and Mathilda from the 1994 Luc Besson film “Leon: The Professional”, one that I really enjoyed watching. I’m about to spoil the whole film here so if you don’t want it ruined for you, go and watch it first HAHA.


Okay so you’re here either after watching it or you don’t mind spoilers.


Here’s your last chance to watch the movie first if you haven’t.


In the film, Mathilda’s family is killed by a crazy corrupt DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) officer and she seeks refuge from her neighbour, Leon, who is a hitman. Mathilda, who is only 12 years old at the time, asks Leon to take her as his protégé so that she could take revenge on, in her own words, “the dirtbags who killed her brother”. Long story short, Leon refuses at first, eventually accepts her and the two develops an unlikely bond throughout the rest of the film, each taking a place in the other’s heart that never existed before. I finally selected four quotes from the movie that are key points in the film and describes what happened to Leon and Mathilda, and their relationship in the film.

While initially I wanted to use the many iconic objects from the film to make my compositions, I realised that doing so would make my renditions too literal, which is exactly what the project is NOT about. It was really confusing because after watching the movie, one would definitely have preconceived images directly related to the film.  After enlightening consultations with Joy, I finally understood that there are many ways in which to tackle the project brief. I decided to take a look at the relationship between Leon and Mathilda from the point of views of different assassination cultures from around the world. I used icons and symbols from the different cultures, and also, by Joy’s suggestion, explored the compositions based on the art practices of the area, which I really want to thank her for. (Thanks Joy!!)

Without further ado, here are the final four compositions!




The quote here describes Leon’s inherent cold-heartedness towards Mathilda, after spending a lifetime of putting aside emotions as part of his job. This was him rejecting Mathilda’s request of taking her as an apprentice.

I chose India for this piece. I took the Indian Hindu goddess Durga, a multi-dimensional goddess of power and strength, mother of the universe, to represent Leon. The many hands wielding different weapons symbolise Leon’s individualistic and independent nature, as he does everything by himself. Instead of choosing Kali or Shiva who are deities of destruction and death, I chose Durga to symbolise Leon’s hidden kind and caring nature, that he is actually good.

I replaced the head with the head of a thuggee/thug, an Indian professional robber/murderer who typically travels in gangs, gains trust of his victims and strangles them to death during the journey. To describe Leon’s defiant nature, and also his personal code of working alone, I included a group of thugs on the left frame with their heads marked out, showing their irrelevance to Leon. Moreover, the placement of the frames, which is cut off-centre, is done to suggest the presence of other frames containing other pictures of thugs outside of the composition. The framing is inspired by Mughal art, paintings that originate from South Asia, and I used one particular painting to create this piece.

I also used the traditional Indian henna design of the mandala, which symbolises the universe, as a border, to indicate how this is the universe that Leon lives in.




This quote is what Mathilda says when she is about to shoot herself in the head in a self-initiated game of Russian roulette. At this point of time, she has nothing to live for anymore if Leon does not take her in.

I chose Japan with the ninjas in mind, but then I remembered about the old Japanese act of voluntary suicide, harakiri/seppuku, and thought that it would be perfect for this scene. The ceremonial disembowelment is usually done with a tanto (short knife), but can also be done with a tachi (long sword). I chose to use a katana (which is a tachi), to heighten the feeling of risk and intensity, making it look more dramatic.

Shinigamis, death gods who lure people to take their own lives, can be seen in the background, giving the piece a slightly eerie feeling of looming death.

I also included two characteristic patterns from Japan, “Nami“, meaning waves, on the screen-dividers, and “Yagasuri“, meaning arrows, on the floor to replace the usual tatami. Nami means strength and represents Mathilda’s courage in her decision. Yagasuri means determination and represents Mathilda’s resolve to kill herself.

Mathilda is represented by the maiko, or apprentice geisha, in an illustration style that is typical of Japanese paintings and ukiyo-e, which I referred to when making this composition. Ukiyo-e, a genre of art that features woodblock prints and paintings, makes use of asymmetry and slight perspective, which I applied in this composition. I divided the piece to foreground (maiko), middle ground (screen-dividers) and background (shinigami), with all of the elements placed slightly off-centre. 

I carefully planned the arrangement such that it is hinted to the viewers how Mathilda is on the verge of death. I made use of the screen-dividers (common image in ukiyo-e) to create a clear division between the living world (where the maiko is) and the underworld (shinigamis). Directly behind her is the opening towards this underworld, and together with the yagasuri pattern deliberately pointing towards the underworld, this illustrates Mathilda’s resolve to head towards death. The yagasuri pattern pointing towards the background also helps to create an illusion of depth and perspective, which is an element of the art of ukiyo-e.




These were Leon’s last words (cries) as he sacrificed himself to save Mathilda. He has gone from an aloof, cold-blooded murderer to a man who is again, capable of feeling love and care for another person.

I chose Mexico for this scene, originally just because I wanted to portray Leon as a Mexican sicario, a hired professional assassin that works for the organised drug cartels in Mexico. However, sicarios also used guns primarily, and I thought that this was too similar to the movie’s Western usage of firearms. When I researched about Mexican art, I am reminded of the famous and beautiful sugar skulls symbolic of the Day of the Dead and realised that I could also use this to recreate Leon’s death scene. Branching from Mexican folk art, this colourful, decorative style is used in the Day of the Dead celebrations, or Dia de los Muertos.

I chose a few symbols from the art style and celebration to use as elements of this piece. The calavera, or sugar skull, represents both Leon and death. The scythes are representative of Santa Muerte, the Mexican female folk saint who is a personification of death. She is believed to deliver people safely to the afterworld, and typically holds a scythe, along with a  globe, or other things. The skull and scythes are arranged in a typical skull and bones arrangement, and further emphasises death, with the blades placed at the nape of Leon’s neck. This also alludes to the act of decapitation, characteristic of the sicarios’ way of finishing off their targets by mutilation. Behind is a blooming pattern of marigolds, specifically the cempasúchil, or the flor de muertos (flower of the dead), which is the main flower used for the Day of the Dead celebrations. They are arranged to create a haunting yet beautiful aura that looks like fireworks, and also to represent the explosion of grenades in the movie.

I also did not put the skull in an upright position to mimic Leon’s position of death in the film, where he lied on the floor. I feel that this also made the composition more dynamic and less boring.




The last quote is the scene where Mathilda buries Leon’s plant (also an icon of the movie) in the garden of the school where Mathilda found refuge in, after Leon’s death.

I chose Bali for this scene. I have always had an attachment to Balinese culture, and this was the first culture I researched further on, based on my then knowledge of it. I already knew some of the patterns that I was going to use, such as the poleng (which I will explain soon). Mathilda is represented by the girl in traditional Balinese costume used in the pendet dance, a dance that I am familiar of. The dance is characterised by the headpiece. The pendet dance is a welcome dance, a dance of greeting. Here, I used it to represent Mathilda’s welcoming of her new life, and the transition between her previous life and her life after the death of her family and Leon.

The original Chinese Evergreen plant from the movie is replaced by the kamboja (frangipani), a flower that is considered holy in Bali. I made use of its interesting duality as it also represents death and bad luck in the Javanese context.

Behind her is the Barong, a lion-like king of spirits, leader of hosts of good, of the Balinese Hindu mythology. The Barong is a symbol of protection, looming over Mathilda, that hints at Mathilda being safe from then on, after Leon’s sacrifice. Moreover, I used a sheet of poleng fabric at the background to emphasise protection, as the black, white and grey plaid is a pattern used for protection typically seen in Bali.

To complete the composition, I added a border of perada, a fabric used by the rich, inspired by its similar pattern seen in the carvings of typical Balinese furniture.



Silkscreen was fun to do. Although I faced some difficulties in the second silk-screening session, when I had to get it printed on the tote bag, I am quite happy with the final result.


(I will upload a better picture when I get to iron it out)



This is how I presented my final work.


I decided to include a supplementary element in the presentation. Under the Japanese composition, I pasted a death poem, in Japanese, that I imagined Mathilda to have written before proceeding to kill herself. Writing a death poem is part of the ritual of harakiri/seppuku, and I felt that it was such a melancholic and beautiful way to leave with your last words in a string of poetry.


From right to left: Nani mo no tame ni, ikiru tame ni, nokotte imasen, hototogisu.
Translation: Nothing left to live for, the cuckoo cries.
The poem describes how at the point of time, Mathilda has lost everything and is ready to die. “Hototogisu”, or the cuckoo bird, is a bird recognised for its beautiful voice, but is also considered a messenger of death. It is a phrase usually used to poetically signify death.

These are a few things that I tried to make sure were consistent in the four compositions.

  • Overall balance in the composition, even when I arrange the elements in an asymmetrical way. 
  • Presence of central character.
  • Simplicity and subtlety of hidden messages through the symbols.
  • Very subtle dark, light, dark, light look. This is purely for aesthetics (It felt weird with only the third composition one being very dark), to balance the look of the four compositions together, and to create rhythm as the eye gazes from the left to the right.

Presentation generally went well, and I managed to say most of what I wanted to say in the time limit, but I did forget to mention a few things due to a slight panic when the alarm rang. Hopefully next time my nerves don’t get the better of me.

Overall, I really enjoyed the process, getting to know so many different cultures and really putting a lot of meaning into my work, which I noticed is what I like to do. I also got to keep the essence of the movie and managed to bring forth the feelings I have for the movie, and made this project a meaningful one.

On to the last project of this semester!