A composer masterfully constructs aspects of power that is offered through the textual integrity of poem and film. The satirical dramatic monologue of Weapon’s training by Bruce Dawe and Father and child by Gwen Harwood, both demonstrate the power of death that enhances one’s present perception. In cohesion with Dawe’s poem, Zhang Yimou’s film Flowers of war, a wartime epic during the ‘Rape of Nanking’ of the Second Sino-Japanese war both illustrate the power of war. Both Yimou and Harwood relate to the power of innocence as inherently vital to humanity.
Composers accentuate the power of death is enforced through one’s understanding of the transience of life and finality of death is both timeless and integral to the formation of humanity’s present perception. The power of death is effectively conveyed through the textual integrity of poetry; by the poets, Bruce Dawe’s Weapon’s training and Gwen Harwood’s Father and child. The form of graphic imagery enhances the emotive dimension of the reader, as the sergeant takes on an ever-detestable persona and continues to afflict the young soldiers with boundless insults and threats.
Dawe conveys bloody and vivid imagery of battle: “your tripes are round your neck”, depicts the violent and gruesome deaths that the sergeant has gained prior to previous experience. This fear of death and the sergeant’s knowledge of the soldiers impending death was the solitary component that was capable of terrifying his men into submission. The repetition emphasizes the knowledge which the sergeant holds; “and do you know what you are?
You’re dead, dead, dead,’ the aggressive flow of words coupled with the sudden use of punctuation or caesura breaks the erratic rhythm of the poem and consolidates an abrupt end or finality of death. Likewise, Harwood effectively conveys the power of death in her text Father and child, exemplifying the notion that the living cannot escape the ravages of time and aging portraying the persona’s experience of death as a natural part of life. The diptych “Barn Owl” captures the child’s maturation and gaining of wisdom that is accentuated from the experience of death as a shocking and violent occurrence.
The metaphor; “I leaned my head upon my father’s arm, and wept, owl-blind in early sun for what I had begun”, the power of death erodes the innocence that is inherent within childhood and elevates the persona’s selfknowledge that is attained through the experience of death. The allegorical title “Nightfall” of Harwood’s “Father and child” signifies approaching death especially in the simile, ‘let us walk for this hour as if death had no power’ reflects the transience of life while exalting the persona’s eventual acceptance of death as a natural human experience.
The anaphora of “no” in “what sorrows, in the end, no words, no tears, can mend” emphasizes the persona experiences of the sorrows of death, has ultimately changed her forever. The power of death can be effectively manifested in versatility to elevate an individual’s perception of the transience of life and finality of death. The power of war is effectively conveyed as either man’s most heroic or horrendous endeavour.
Yimou’s Flowers of War and Dawe’s Weapon’s training both illustrate the power of war as individuals are subjected to the highly organised violence and dehumanisation of war; as destructive casualties arise, the fear and urge to survive results in the elimination of one’s moral values. The film portrays the soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army committing horrendous crimes against humanity. Similarly, the poem epitomises the power that war has to degrade and dehumanise the enemy, with the philosophy: “Kill or be killed”.
The verbal onslaught and derogatory language enhances the sergeant’s powerful persona by striking fear within the soldiers; “Charlies are coming at you/you can smell their rotten fish sauce breath”. The colloquial insult combined with the tactile and olfactory imagery conveys the power of war that allows individuals to depersonalize the enemy by degrading them by their race, culture and tradition. Similarly, the film enhances the notion that amidst war, soldiers will adhere to their duty but at the cost of their humanity; as the power of war can turn the normal civilised empathetic youth of Japan into ruthless killing machines.
A long angle shot emphasizes the breadth of a Japanese soldier’s power, as he howls in exultation: ‘We’ve got virgins! “. The raised and animalistic tone of his voice exaggerates the violent and sexual prowess of the soldiers, who desire to conquer the body and dehumanize the innocence of the young girls. The director has employed a montage of sporadic camera angles and shots, to depict the Japanese soldiers invading the theoretically neutral ground of the cathedral as they attack the convent girls, elucidating to the power of war.
The disposal of one’s morality and humanity occurs, as one succumbs to the dehumanizing effects of war. The director alludes to the power of war through the dialogue: “This is the house of the Lord! These are children! You cannot break the laws of man and God! ” John Miller becomes the surrogate ‘saviour’ as the girl’s tender adolescence heightens its impact and their safety becomes a paramount concern; distressing the power of war and its violent consequences imposed on individuals.
Thus, Flowers of War and Weapons training both effectively convey the power of war. As contrary to popular belief, the discarding of human ethics should enable one to be free from such limitation, so as to become powerful, which occurs as a result of war. Composers explore the power of innocence that is associated with the purity of youth that is inherently vital to humanity. But once innocence is lost, it cannot be reclaimed as the acquisition of human experience and knowledge of life is deepened.
The composers Harwood and Yimou both effectively convey the power of innocence, in an attempt to sacralise the essence of the tender age of childhood that is associated with the exuberance of youth and alluring nature. The oxymoron, “your passionate face has grown to ancient innocence”, refers to the persona’s childlike innocence in “Barn owl” emphasizing the power of innocence in which even the most passionate individuals will succumb back into a state of childlike innocence. In Zhang Yimou’s film, the power of innocence is enforced through the characterization of the convent girls.
The director employs a medium shot illustrating the convent girls as they weep in the formation of a circle, with a single candle metaphorically shielding them from the ravages and darkness of war. The motif of light emphasizes the vulnerability of the children’s purity in which the representation of their innocence is contrasted to the evading darkness of the room. In the film, tears begin to form over Major Li’s war-torn face through the close-up camera angle, as he silently weeps for humanity and the innocence of the young convent girls.
This personal shot enables viewers to understand that children are the last vestige of goodness and thus must be protected from the inherent evil in humanity. Through the studies of text, composers have effectively conveyed aspects of power. Dawe’s Weapon training, in conjunction with Harwood’s Father and child explore the power of death as both timeless and integral to humanity’s present perception. The power of war influences the disposal of one’s morality and humanity were acknowledge by Dawe’s poem and Yimou’s film Flowers of war. The film, in cohesion with Father and child both address power of innocence.