#1 BEGIN's form:

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Defining WINGS Short Films simply as “short films”, and therefore implying the image/soundtrack relationship between audio and visual elements, would be too reductive. They are a hybrid between films and music videos. However, before addressing the story of #1 BEGIN, we should understand why, despite showing a song for an upcoming album, this is not a music video in the strict sense of the term.

#1 BEGIN and WINGS Short Films not as music videos

For Giulia Gabrielli, a Music Video is “a text typology formed by the union of two elements: a song taken in its whole and a series of images linked to it (2010, p.90). She stresses the importance of the spectator, claiming that we only have a music video when the spectator enjoys song and images simultaneously (Gabrielli 2010, p. 90). In contrast to film texts, the images are created after and for the song (which can stand autonomously) and, when these are perceived together, they become something else, something richer and linked to every other paratext (according to this definition, removing the sound, we only have images of a music video, not the music video itself). This is possible because of synchronization points, where sound and images meet in synchrony (e.g. lip-sync), and thanks to what Michael Chion defines as Synchresis, “the spontaneous and irresistible weld produced between a particular auditory phenomenon and visual phenomenon when they occur at the same time” (1994, p. 63).

In the case of #1 BEGIN, for instance, the most evident difference is the absence of a song taken in its whole. Although it seems trivial, it is indeed crucial: aside from being aesthetic and semiotic texts, music videos are essentially a way to promote the song. Sometimes the song may be an edited version, but it is always the core of the video because we are essentially talking about a commercial. In this case, not only was the tracklist not yet revealed when WINGS Short Films came out (so no one knew that the title was the names of the track ‘Begin‘) but, in about 3 minutes of video, only some song’s extracts are included and mixed with sounds.
At the same time, we can borrow Chion’s idea of synchresis: the song, music and sounds are not a mere soundtrack for the images but rather they have an active role in the whole comprehension when perceived together; moreover, the synchronization points are given by contrapuntal use of these audio/visual elements rather than lip-sync moments, creating conceptual and sometimes unusual associations.
The hybrid nature #1 BEGIN and the other short films therefore allows me to consider their storytelling while keeping in mind the whole album and the paratexts around it.

A scheme of the symbols at the end of each short film and how they fuse and become the four circles on the album cover.

WINGS Short Films as serial contents

Narratively speaking, each short film can easily stand by itself, but they should be more accurately addressed as a whole serial storytelling.
On a matter of form, while differing from any other content ever released by the band, #1 BEGIN have many similarities with the other short films: the intro with Demian‘s quote; the title (progressive number + title in uppercase) on a white background; editing and mise-en-scène between narrative and conceptual; some fragments of old songs written on a black background; the outro of the videos, each time showing different symbols that will end up creating the WINGS (2016) album cover art (see image above).
On the other hand, in terms of content, #1 BEGIN is related to all the another short films by a hypertextual relationship, where every video is connected to the previous one thanks to recurring images and concepts (Genette, 1997). In addition to this, they all present (explicitly or implicitly) the three narrative layers (personal life of each member, Demian and the BTS Universe), which share the same main theme: adolescence and the struggle of growing up.

All these factors allow me to address the short films as a coherent narrative entity rather than seven different videos. Therefore, in this analysis #1 BEGIN will be considered as an extract or ‘scene’ of the whole narrative that starts with it and ends with #7 AWAKE.
However, due to the narrative’s hypertextual and non-linear nature, it is not really important in which order the videos are watched (the progressive numbers refer to the released order), given how we would end up grasping the same meaning even by randomly watching thm. 

We can also claim that these contents are characterized by narrative complexity.
Considering the practice of storytelling in television, Jason Mittell defines narrative complexity as “a redefinition of episodic forms under the influence of serial narration — not necessarily a complete merger of episodic and serial forms but a shifting balance” (2006, p 32).
Taking this into consideration, #1 BEGIN can not only be addressed as an episode in the WINGS Short Films series, but also be placed in the wider narration of the band’s discography. In doing so, we are invited to care about the storyworld while simultaneously appreciating its construction thanks to operational reflexivity, that enables us to redefine and rethink retroactively our assumptions on this and the other short films when we have more information about them (Mittell 2006).
This concept and its relationship with the viewers will be better addressed in the last chapter.

Example of working with comparisons: Jimin and water/bathtub (frame from #2 LIE, I Need U, #3 FIRST LOVE, Fake Love)

Analysis Method

In order to show how these short films relate to each other and to the three (already explained) narrative layers, I will analyse the first ‘scene’, that is Jungkook’s solo #1 BEGIN.
For the artist’s personal life layer I used some additional background information on the song, the lyrics and the meaning behind them. Keeping this in mind, I broke down the video scene by scene, illustrating how the content of WINGS Short Films is linked to the storyworld of Demian (1919) (especially through symbols and quotations) and BTS Universe (imagery and sounds) and how it can be decode on all these layers.

Due to the conceptual and formalistic nature of the content, my analysis is based on metaphors (mainly used for the depiction of Hesse’s work), comparison and analogies (between characters of different storyworlds and their relationships).


Go to the analysis of #1 BEGIN’s content

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other short films

Here there are the other short films: #2 LIE (Jimin), #3 STIGMA (V), #4 FIRST LOVE (Suga), #5 REFLECTION (RM), #6 MAMA (j-hope), #7 AWAKE (Jin).

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