Star Wars represents a simplistic view of the conflict of light versus dark. The black and white morality with good guys, such as Luke and Leia wearing bright fair colors, while the villains, such as Vader wearing all black, are the first visual color motifs and cues that the Star Wars films rely on (Campbell). Color motifs predate the Star Wars films, however; the white hats versus black hats is one of the basic forms of fictional morality that visual storytellers have used since early Western films (Budd).
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These are cues that visual storytellers have relied on to trigger an immediate response from the viewer. However, there are other less obvious cinematic cues and techniques that will be examined that also are used to support the black and white morality. Using a scene provided from The Empire Strikes Back, an explanation will be presented of how the theme of conflict of good versus evil is expressed visually through mise en scene, visual structure, sound, lighting and contrast. This will provide an understanding of the ways in which certain visual elements have been arranged and function within the film’s composition, and present the classic struggle of light versus dark at its most basic level.
In the showdown between hero and shadow, Luke is represented as the shining knight of destiny, while Vader is represented as a card-carrying villain. (Henderson) Both characters are contrasted in simplistic opposites in every respect. It is how all the formal elements are edited that ultimately present the classic struggle of good versus evil. Heroes are faced with choices that are either all right or all wrong. The choices and actions presented tell us that there are no real shades of grey. Lucas decided, early on in his career that the editor was in control. His early influences stressed the importance of cutting to the creation of meaning (Brooker 47).
For the climatic sequence between Vader and Luke in Empire, how the scene is presented is just as important as to what is being filmed. For this scene, there is more emphasis on the self-contained sequence of images to create a feeling rather than heavy exposition. We focused a lot on filmic expression, film grammar. I was not into storytelling. I was trying to create emotions though pure cinematic techniques (Brooker 47). A brief shot by shot analysis of those elements will reveal the simplicity of the black and white morality.
The Empire Strikes Back is noticeably darker in tone than its predecessor. This is achieved because of the readability of the graphic storytelling, shot flow and low-key lighting. This climatic showdown scene between Luke and Vader is the heart of The Empire Strikes Back. Luke, inexperienced in the ways of the Force and hopelessly outmatched,
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