#1 BEGIN's content

Watch the clip (2’36”)

NOTE:
Written sentence minute 0:53: tr. from Korean “Because the dawn right before the sunset is the brightest”
Signing minute 0:58-1:07: tr. from Korean “When I was fifteen, I had nothing”

Riproduci video

“The bird is struggling out of the egg, […]
The egg is the world. Whoever wants to be born must first destroy a world."

Max Demian interpretation of Emil Sinclair’s painting of the bird (Hesse [1919] 2017 p.73)

The bird, the fire, the song: these are probably the elements that capture the attention when you watch this short for the first time. Despite what we may think by seeing them in the same story, they belong to three different storyworlds.
Although the conceptual mise-en-scène and the abstract/intellectual montage may make it appear as an artistic and suggestive product with un-related shots, we can nevertheless infer that there is a narration going on. This operation is possible thanks to constructive principles and normalized practices that collaborate on what David Bordwell calls ‘three dimensions of narrative’: the storyworld, the plot structure and the narration (2007, p.5). In this case, the plot structure is expressed with a beginning in medias res (the nightmare), a complicate action and development (the attempt of painting), a climax (the burning picture) and a resolution/revelation (the wings’ appearance after closing the envelope); this allows us to understand that, even if unrealistically, there is a principle of causality in what happens to the characters and what we see or hear. When it comes to the storyworld, even if we may not know anything about this short film, we can attribute its agents, circumstances and surroundings to the same narrative space. As we noted in chapter II, this operation is possible thanks to semiotic cues in the narration. However, the storyworld of this video and the other WINGS Short Films results from the interweaving of three different storyworlds or narrative layers: the artist’s personal life, Demian (1919) and the BTS Universe.
In this analysis I tried to break down the video following the hints and signs of every storyline (see appendix for the scene-by-scene analysis), in order to piece them together and look at how they relate to each other and to the other short films. While illustrating them, I will dwell on the two moments (synchronization points) in the video where these layers are hinted at the same time (0:58-1:07 and 1:52-2:08).

The first narrative layer: Demian

Like all the contents from this era, even this short film is significantly influenced by Demian’s (1919) storyworld. In fact, there are some hints we noted in chapter I: some are explicit, like the quotation, the bird and the colours, and some more subtle, like the painting and the reference to a specific event of the plot. If decoded on this layer, this video depicts what happens to Emil Sinclair in the chapter Beatrice: the protagonist is having a nightmare about a bird, he wakes up and, after realizing the man on the canvas he painted before is his friend Max Demian, he paints the bird of the dream and mails it to him (Hesse [1919] 2017, p. 71-72). Following this thread, with the lyrics “When I was fifteen years old, I had nothing” Emil talks about his life before meeting Demian (who he met at a really young age): for him, that was the beginning of a journey toward self-acknowledgement, so we can say that Demian was his ‘beginning’.

In the end, the protagonist folds the envelope with the drawing of the bird. In the book, Demian receives this drawing and hangs it in his house. In the short films, Jungkook’s “Max Demian” is RM: not only RM receives Jungkook’s drawing in his short film #5 REFLECTION but that scene is preceded by the same frame of a bird flying above the red sky (see image below), showing a connection between these two (which will be better addressed in the next paragraph). Like in the book, this drawing will be hung in the house of Jin’s #7 AWAKE.

#1 BEGIN

Nigtmare about the bird (0'40'')
Bird flying over red sky, same frame as in #5 REFLECTION (1'53'')
Sending the painting with the bird (2'05'')

Other short films

RM receives the painting (#5 REFLECTION)
The painting hung in Jin's house (#7 AWAKE)
Each polaroid symbolize a friend, the one with the bird is Jungkook. (#7 AWAKE)

The second narrative layer: BTS Universe

On this layer, the references are more metaphorical but still evident, like the sound of a car accident or the burning piano. Since the burning piano is the imagery of YoonGi (we can also find it in his and JiMin’s shorts) and since he is the one portrayed in the painting, we can say that here JungKook is worried about YoonGi’s death: in the story, in fact, they both try to commit suicide but then save each other. Their bond is clearly showed in many BTS Universe’s contents, as well as YoonGi’s short #3 FIRST LOVE, where he dodges his death by following JungKook’s whistling (like the one at second 0:21).
Besides being closer to YoonGi, meeting all his friends was a turning point in JungKook’s life.

“To me who was always alone, they became my friends, my family, my teachers. Every story of mine was in their story and I only existed in my relationship with them”
JungKook 26 July Year 22, The Notes (Answer) (Big Hit Entertainment 2018 [trad. by ktaebwi].

“To me who was always alone, they became my friends, my family, my teachers. Every story of mine was in their story and I only existed in my relationship with them”
JungKook 26 July Year 22, The Notes (Answer) (Big Hit Entertainment 2018 [trad. by ktaebwi].

In this case, “When I was fifteen years old, I had nothing” refers to his life before them, his friends were his ‘beginning’. However, given how they parted, all this video depicts are his loneliness and the void he feels without them.

Considering the explicit relation with #5 REFLECTION, we can decipher the ending as him reaching out for NamJoon’s help. In the story, JungKook looks up to him almost as a parental figure and this relationship is emphasized by their symbols blending to create the album cover.

JungKoog and NamJoon’s symbols blending at the end of #5 REFLECTION

The third narrative layer: Jungkook's experience

Jungkook’s solo track is about how he came to Seoul and met his fellow members. He is the youngest and he was about fourteen years old after when he joined Big Hit Entertainment after seeing RM perform. The song expresses how he felt growing up in this challenging environment and how he has changed thanks to the members (BTS, 2016a).
At first, Jungkook tried to write the lyrics by himself but found it extremely difficult and he asked RM to do it for him. In order to do so, RM tried to put himself in his shoes by recalling one of the few moments when he saw Jungkook crying:

“Jungkook said nothing was difficult for him: he signed the contract at a young age, knowing nothing. He sang and danced and worked hard since he wanted to. ‘What pains me the most is my members being in pain […] I don’t care about other things. I don’t want you all to be in pain. Then I won’t be in pain too’. That’s what he said” RM speaking about Jungkook and writing Begin (BTS, 2016b).

“Jungkook said nothing was difficult for him: he signed the contract at a young age, knowing nothing. He sang and danced and worked hard since he wanted to. ‘What pains me the most is my members being in pain […] I don’t care about other things. I don’t want you all to be in pain. Then I won’t be in pain too’. That’s what he said” RM speaking about Jungkook and writing Begin (BTS, 2016b).

“You made me begin” sings Jungkook in the chorus (see appendix for the lyrics). For him, meeting the other members was his turning point in life, which draws a line between his previous self and what he is now.
The only part of the lyrics that appears in the video is the first verse, “When I was fifteen years old, I had nothing” (minute 0:58-1:07): after a nightmare, Jungkook is holding a self-portrait sketch with what seems to be a bloodstain, like he is reflecting on his past self and the pain he experienced (directly or indirectly through his friends). If we decipher it through this layer, we can assume this video is about the strong bond between Jungkook and the members and the fear of parting from them/something happening to them (see images below).

From the VCR before 'Begin' performace during the WINGS Tour (Big Hit Entertainment, 2018)

1. The seven members approach seven doorways
2. Jungkook looks at them, worried, without them looking back
3. The other six members walk thorugh the doorways, leaving him behind

Following this thread and borrowing the ending’s interpretation from the BTS Universe layer, this reflects the relationship between Jungkook and RM as well: Jungkook clearly said that he thinks his happiness began when he met RM (16th June 2019 [trad. by wisha]) and he often mentions how he considers RM his biggest inspiration in life.

After this analysis, we can all agree on the hypertextual nature of these series and its complex storytelling.
In the next and last chapter this essay will address the target audience, how it relates to these short films and how both the form and topic of this storytelling were appropriate to stimulate and  strengthen the relationship with the fandom known as ARMYs.

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APPENDIX
#1 BEGIN's analysis

This section shows how I analysed scene by scene and layer by layer the whole video. I mostly used analogies and metaphors to transfer ideas and meaning from a storyworld to another one.

song background information

The fifteen-year-old me who had nothing
The world was so big, and I was so small
Now I can’t even imagine
myself who had no scent, who was completely empty
I pray
Love you my brother, thanks to my brothers,
I became to have emotions, I became me
So I'm me
Now I'm me

You make me begin
You make me begin
You make me begin
(Smile with me, smile with me, smile with me)
You make me begin
(Smile with me, smile with me)

I can’t stand
your crying
I’d want to cry instead
though I can’t do so

You make me begin
You make me begin
You make me begin
(Cry with me, cry with me, cry with me)
You make me begin
(Cry with me, cry with me)

I feel like dying when my brother is sad
When my brother is in pain, it hurts more than when I’m in pain
Brother let's cry, cry, let’s just cry it of
I don’t know much about sadness, but I’ll just cry
Because, because

You made me again
You made me again
You made me again
(Fly with me, fly with me, fly with me)
You made me again
(Fly with me, fly with me)
You make me begin, oh wow
You made me again

아무것도 없던 열다섯의 나
세상은 참 컸어 너무 작은 나
이제 난 상상할 수도 없어
향기가 없던 텅 비어있던 나 나
I pray
Love you my brother 형들이 있어
감정이 생겼어 나 내가 됐어
So I'm me
Now I'm me

You make me begin
You make me begin
You make me begin
(Smile with me, smile with me, smile with me)
You make me begin
(Smile with me, smile with me)

참을 수가 없어, yeah
울고 있는 너
대신 울고 싶어
할 순 없지만

You make me begin
You make me begin
You make me begin
(Cry with me, cry with me, cry with me)
You make me begin
(Cry with me, cry with me)

죽을 것 같아 형이 슬프면
형이 아프면 내가 아픈 것보다 아파
Brother let's cry, cry 울고 말자
슬픔은 잘 모르지만 그냥 울래
Because, because

You made me again
You made me again
You made me again
(Fly with me, fly with me, fly with me)
You made me again
(Fly with me, fly with me)
You make me begin, oh wow
You made me again

PERSONAL: SONG STORY
Jungkook’s solo track is about how he came to Seoul and met his fellow members: he was about fourteen years old when he joined Big Hit Entertainment after seeing RM perform. The song expresses how he felt growing up in this environment, and how he has changed into what he is now thanks to the members (BTS, 2016a). 

At first, Jungkook tried to write the lyrics by himself since it’s his own story but found it extremely difficult and he asked RM to do it for him. In order to do so, RM tried to put himself in his shoes by recalling some memories: he thought of when they were all talking honestly about what was painful for each other and Jungkook started crying, saying that nothing for him was more painful than knowing that his friends were in pain (BTS, 2016b)

Riproduci video

Produced by Tony Esterly
Written by Tony Esterly, David Quinones, RM

Back to paragraph

analysis SCENE-BY-SCENE

KEY

  • personal: artist personal life
  • Demian: book’s storyworld. 
    All the quotes in this section are from Demian [1919](2017), In the quotations, just the page will be specified.
  • BTS Universe: BU storyworld.
    All the quotes in this section are from the English version of 花樣年華 The Notes 1 The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (2019). Just date and character will be specified.
  • other: all the connection with the other WINGS Short Films (references on the purple section on the right)
  • Hyung in Korean means ‘older brother’ and it is used to address people older than the person who speaks (used by males)
  • Speaker icon means there is something relevant in the audio of the video.

QUOTATION
The video starts with a quote from the first chapter, Two Worlds. Here Emil, while sharing his childhood memories, makes a distinction between the familiar world of his parents' house, associated with light/day and rigorousness (described in the quote for #2 LIE's short) and the external and unknown world of his neighbourhood, associated with darkness/night and corruption (described in the quote in #5 REFLECTION). He explains that everything changed and started when these two worlds collided.

WHISTLE
While the first paratext (the title) appears a whistle can be heard. The melody is the track's one (Begin).
The same whistle can be found in Yoongi's short film as well: this is he melody that he is playing in the shop and it is the same whistle that he hears from outside.

 

INTERPRETATION
The whistle saves Yoongi from the car accident. Metaphorically speaking, Jungkook saves Yoongi, and that portrays the relationship between their characters in the BU: YoonGi's text stops JungKook from jumping off a building and JungKook carries YoonGi out from the fire he set to kill himself.

(from #4 FIRST LOVE)

"It was precisely at that time that I began having a great many dreams again as I had done during my childhood". (p.66)

NIGHTMARE
JungKook is dreaming, probably a nightmare. In the chapter Beatrice Emil, who parted from Demian, starts having nightmares as well.

BURNING PIANO
One of the images in JungKook's nightmare is a burning piano. The same image appears in Jimin short's #2 LIE.
In Suga's short #4 FIRST LOVE (a song about his personal and conflicting relationship with music and his piano), we see a burning piano after a car accident in which the protagonist almost got involved.

"I went to the burned down house once after the funeral. A skeleton of what used to be a piano was still standing where Mom's room used to be". YoonGi 25 June Year 20

PIANO & FIRE: YOONGI
Piano and fire are two imageries of YoonGi. He lost his mother (who made him love music) after she set a fire when he was a child. He will try committing suicide in the same way.
We can say that JungKook is dreaming of YoonGi and he is afraid something would happen to him (we will better explore their relationship later).

"That night I dreamed of Demian and the coat-of-arms. [...] Full of a deadly fear, I awoke with a start." (p.71)

NIGHTMARE WITH BIRD
Emil dreams of the bird on the coat-of-arms of his old house. In this dream, Demian explains to him that that bird, which sometimes was small and grey, other times large and multicoloured, was always the same bird, and he makes Emil swallow it.

GLASS BREAKING
The same glass appears in #3 STIGMA and #5 REFLECTION. It is usually connected to RM contents (e.g. his symbol is a broken glass).
BIRD
As we saw, the bird is a recurring image in this era. It appears multiple times in the shorts and we will better discuss it in the next sections.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT (sound)
We can hear the sound of tires screeching. It sounds like a road accident, like the one in which YoonGi almost gets involved in #4 FIRST LOVE

BREAKING GLASS & BIRD: NAMJOON
We will better explore their relationship in the next sections.

"I came to at the sound of loud honking. The car had just barely missed me." YoonGi 7 April Year 22

"I thought of that night, [...] headlights piercing into the inverted vision, read light from the tail lamps and the strangely familiar sound of the engine". JungKook 26 July Year 22 [trad. by ktaebwi]

TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
This explicitly refers to YoonGi's near-accident while he was drunk. After that, YoonGi meets again JungKook at the music shop. Another guess is that this refers more implicitly to JungKook real accident/attempt suicide.
Therefore, this could be either be interpreted as JungKook worrying for YoonGi or dreaming about his possible death.

LYRICS QUOTE
The images are interrupted by a black frame with a quote from an old song of the group. In this song they express the frustration of growing up and finding out that life is more difficult and painful than what they expected. The first thought is giving up, but then, in the chorus, is Jungkook the one who sings that he is willing to suffer in order to follow his dreams, aiming for a better tomorrow.
Not only has BTS gone through difficult times as a group but also personally. However, as RM points out, Jungkook did not feel like he suffered compared to the other members and this quote seems taking up the concept of his carefree and positive self.

“Follow your dream like breaker
Even if you crash oh better
Follow your dream like breaker
Even if you collapse oh don’t run back never
Because the dawn right before the sunrise is the darkest,
you, in the future, never forget yourself of now
Wherever you’re standing right now, you’re just taking a short break
Don’t give up, you know it
Don’t get too far away tomorrow”

(Tomorrow from the album ‘Skool Luv Affair’)

"The six guys were always around me. So what I see, feel and learn is mostly from the members.[...] They put the scattered pieces of my puzzle together." - Jungkook (BTS, 2018)

“He [Jungkook] said [...] he came in at a young age, signed the contract without knowing anything, sang and danced because that’s what he wanted. 'What pains me is the members being in pain'.” - RM about Jungkook (BTS, 2016b)

LIFE PRE-DEBUT
Despite not being directly written by him, the lyrics reflect Jungkook's feelings towards the other members and his pre-debut life. He was fifteen-years-old when they debuted and he explains how his life appeared meaningless without them. The members (who he calls 'brothers') were his begin and turning point in life.

"Salvation from my tormentor came from a totally unexpected quarter, and at the same time I was conscious of a new element in my life which has affected me right up to the present day." (p.21)

MEETING DEMIAN
In the chapter Cain the young Emil meets Max Damian: he becomes his friend and 'saviour' concerning a problem he had with another classmate. Because of the relationship with him, Emil's life will not be the same anymore and he will start a long journey toward self-discovering. Max Demian is the awakening moment and turning point in Emil's life.

"I didn't tell anyone, but I felt on that long-ago day I had found a real family. Real brothers." JungKook 22 May Year 22

"Most of the stuff I said started with 'the hyungs'. To me who was always alone, they became my friends, my family, my teachers. Every story of mine was in their story and I only existed in my relationship with them." JungKook 26 July Year 22 [trad. by ktaebwi]

MEETING HIS FRIENDS
JungKook is around fifteen years old when he meets his 'hyungs'. They are his only good things in life and they help him growing up. However, due to his traumatic past, he is not able to get rid of the feeling of being a burden and that they will leave him eventually. His friends are his begin.

The fifteen-year-old me who had nothing
The world was so big, and I was so small
Now I can’t even imagine
myself who had no scent, who was completely empty

(Begin, complete lyrics above)

"I was wide awake; it was the middle of the night and I could hear the rain entering into the room. I got up to close the window and in the process stood on something bright that lay on the floor. [...] I found it was my painted heet of paper." (p.71)

DARK HOUSE & SKETCHES
Emil's life changed since he met Damian and now he sees everything with different eyes. After parting from him, everything in life, even his own home, seems impoverished to him. However, in this period, he starts drawing and painting.

"I remembered sitting on that bench and drawing while listening to music with her." JungKook 26 July Year 22 [trad. by ktaebwi]

SKETCHES
The room is filled with sketches, which are related to JungKook, who, especially in the hospital, draws often.

"When I looked at it next day [...] the red lips had faded and connected a little. They now looked exactly like Demian's". (p.71)

PAINTING (REALIZATION)
Emil wants to draw a girl but, in the final portrait, he sees Damian and then himself. One night, after a nightmare, he thinks the portrait looks more like Demian than before.

PAINTING, PIANO & FIRE: YOONGI
JungKook suddenly recognizes YoonGi in the portrait and in that instant, in a parallel moment in time, the portrait catches fire.

"I thought of Jungkook's words. 'It's because I like your music, Hyung. It's because listening to your piano makes me cry. Me, I wanted to die several times a day. But when I hear hyung's piano I want to live'" YoonGi 13 June Year 22 [trad. by origamifirefly]

"'Why didn't you go see JungKook? Don't you know what you mean to him?' Of course I knew. Maybe that was why I couldn't go into his room. I was distorted and thorny. Anyone who tried to come near me was bound to get hurt." YoonGi 25 July Year 22

JUNGKOOK AND YOONGI
Among all of them, JungKook builds a strong bond with YoonGi. They do not talk about their struggles, their relationship is more about silences and the shared passion for music. JungKook is not that good at playing the piano but he loves listening to YoonGi. YoonGi once stood up for JungKook when a teacher physically attacked him, which then resulted in his expulsion from school. That is when everything started falling apart.

COLORS
Vivid colors are one of the symbols of Demian [1919](2017)in the WINGS era (see WINGS: more than a concept album)

"The sheet caught fire and instantly flared up. My last sight of this world was this dirty, isolated room, the red-hot flames and rolling heat, and JungKook's twisted face." YoonGi 2 May Year 22

"Nobody came to my mind. There was nothing I wanted to leave behind, nothing. I would remember. This was just the way it ended. It was then, the moment my phone rang. I came to myself like I just woke up from a distant dream. All the numbed senses returned in an instant. I took out my phone. It was YoonGi." JungKook 11 April Year 22 [trad. by ktaebwi]

JUNGKOOK AND YOONGI SAVING EACH OTHER
YoonGi's portrait is burning. Like we are in another dimension, bloodstains are dripping on it while raindrops are melting the image. JungKook cries in denial. This looks like an omen of death, and it is directly connected to the relationship between the two characters.
JungKook and YoonGi share self-harming behaviours, which lead them to both attempt suicide. In the first timeline, they even succeed. SeokJin realized that he cannot do anything for them and that maybe he has to try to reunite them, so they could save each other. Sometimes, that works. JungKook rescues YoonGi from the flames and YoonGi calls JungKook before he jumps off the building.

BIRDS
Birds are one of the symbols of Demian [1919](2017)in the WINGS era (see WINGS: more than a concept album)

FLYING BIRD
A bird flying across the frame, on a red sky. We find the same image and sound in #5 REFLECTION after NamJoon opens JungKook's letter (see next section). This metaphor seems to suggest a connection.

NAMJOON
See next section.

The same sound and image (#5  REFLECTION)

"I set about painting a fresh picture - the heraldic bird. [...] I did not write anything on it - not even my name, trimmed the edges carefully, bought a large envelope and wrote my friend's [Demian's] old address on it and dispatched it." (p.71-72)

BIRD PAINTING
After the nightmare about eating the coats-of-arms with the bird on it, Emil paints a bird and sends it to Demian.
Demian will reply with his own interpretation (see WINGS: more than a concept album) and, later on, Emil Sinclar will find his own painting hung on the wall of Demian's house.

BIRD PAINTING
This symbol, borrowed from Demian's [1919](2017) storyworld, can be found in many other contents for this era, especially connected with RM/NamJoon. Here we see JungKook putting the painting into an envelope with wings on it. The same envelope and painting can be found in #5 REFLECTION as well. Like Emil unconsciously reaches out to Demian, so JungKook reaches out to NamJoon.
Like Emil Sinclair finds his painting in Demian's house, so we find JungKook's painting in SeokJin's house in #7 AWAKE. For SeokJin, the bird symbolises JungKook, as we see on the polaroid at the end of his short film.

"I tried to act like a big brother and pretended to be mature, but I wasn't there when the others were going through their most difficult times. They said I was mature and grownup, but that wasn't true." Namjoon 28 April Year 22

"Then I asked him [NamJoon], 'Will I be able to grow into an adult like you?'." JungKook 2 May Year 22

JUNGKOOK & NAMJOON
Along with YoonGi, JungKook looks up to NamJoon a lot. Despite not being the eldest, he seems the wisest and he is the one everyone (especially the youngest TaeHyung and JungKook) looks for because of his protective behaviour. In fact, after rescuing YoonGi from the fire, JungKook goes to NamJoon's container. The youngest does not talk about what happened but NamJoon takes care of him.

SEOKJIN
As the one who is trying to save them all, every short film is connected to SeokJin's one somehow. In this case it is by means of the portrait with the bird.

"The dream hadn't been so clear itself, but I think my happiness began with Rapmon [RM] hyung. The beginning of my dream." - Jungkook, 16th June 2019 [trad. by wisha]

"He is someone closest to me that I can learn a lot from. [...] I think I have found a certain potential of my own within me while talking to RM or seeing the way he thinks, acts, speaks, or engages with music." - JungKook about RM (BTS, 2020)

JUNGKOOK & RM
Their relationship in the fictional world somehow reflects the one in real life: despite not being the eldest, RM is the leader of the group and Jungkook often points out how he joined the group because of him and how he grew up thanks to his influence. Therefore, we can assume this real bond is portrayed in the video as well.

"I had a dream in which I was able to fly yet only in such a manner that I was somehow flung into the air, and yet had no matery over it." (p.86)

FLYING (with wings)
One of Emil's recurring dreams after the one where he swallows the bird is the one where he dreams of flying. The metaphor of being able to fly in Demian [1919](2017) is related to the journey toward self-knowlaedge.

WINGS
Aside from all the references during the era (see WINGS: more than a concept album) we can have a glimpse of wings on HoSeok's back in #6 MAMA.

MUSIC
The music is a sample from the song Begin.

FEATHERED (object)
Feathered wings are one of the symbols for Demian [1917](2017), see WINGS: more than a concept album.

MEMBER LOGO
As we saw in the presentation of the shorts, each member has his own logo characterized by a peculiar symbol: for JungKook, this are wings. The even edges suggest a feather and the sound of wings is clearly heard.

Member Logo and Main Logo Animation in WINGS Short Films

MEMBER LOGO
Being the first short film released, Jungkook's symbols is the first one that fills the album cover concept. This symbol will blend with NamJoon's one (that represents a broken mirror) in #5 REFLECTION and together they will become the first defined circle in the album cover. Besides representing the characters relationship, the blended symbols appear on the first page of the booklet and they anticipate the two members in subunit photoshoot of that album version.

JUNGKOOK AND NAMJOON
See above.

Outro (#5 REFLECTION)

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