Symbolism – Death’s Head Hawk Moth and Assignment Three Thoughts

“Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries. By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language.” – Manly Hall 

In a Skype conversation my tutor brought to my attention about the symbolism of the Death Hawks Head Moth. As a keen wildlife enthusiast, I had heard of this beautiful creature, however, I did not know of its great role it plays in symbolism. Featured in everything from the Pre Raphelite painting, The Hireling Shepherd by William Holman Hunt to the sickening and twisted movie, the Silence of the Lambs (which I have no wish to watch) Dracula, Un Chien Andalou it’s fluttered its way throughout history as a hidden symbol. The symbol it represents however always has dark connotations. It serves as a symbol of the death of the church in the Hireling Shepherd painting. A dead moth is found in Un Chien Andalou an equally dark movie.

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My tutor suggested including footage of a Deaths Head Hawk Moth in Assignment Three as he felt it would be stronger to have something suggested earlier on about the poison. I wasn’t sure where to find such footage. I have used occasional stock sounds such as the dawn chorus in Assignment Four but felt it would be cheating myself to use stock footage of a moth, plus I wasn’t sure it would be allowed. I considered several ideas of how to incorporate the moth into my assignment. Some of my ideas were.

  • A moth flying by as the man cuts the roses. Or flying generally. Peter said you could even just include it with no reference.
  • The moth featuring as a phone wallpaper. This would involve a new narration or plot though.
  • A moth tattoo on the mans neck which she sees as he walks off in slow motion.
  • The moth on the gift card with a butterfly symbolising resurrection on the other side.

I printed off an image of the moth planning the gift card but as I did so I noticed the sun slanting onto the wall. I held the moth up to the light and it had such a dramatic shadow. The wings of death.

Acherontia lachesis MHNT Female Nîlgîri (Tamil Nadu) Dorsal

Found on Google images

The problem was holding the moth so my hand didn’t show. I held it up with scissors. I dropped it from a height.

Some of the versions that didn’t work. As you can see the moth is washed out under the torch light and you can see my hand in the other picture.

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Eventually I used the ornamental flowers. As I set it up I happened to move the torch and the shadow extended upwards with the moth. This was the shot I needed.

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I removed the shot of the rose being cut and replaced with the moth. It’s very ominous as the thunder strikes. I sent it to my tutor who am I waiting to hear back from.

Here is the finished version –

Assignment Three – ChloeClik from ChloeClik on Vimeo.

Positives.

  • The moth does look quite lifelike
  • The reeds add extra interest.
  • The thunder clap is ominous.

Negatives

  • I wish the shot could be longer but with the time limit I would have to remove something else.
  • Perhaps it appears slightly random the sudden inclusion.

However on conferring with my tutor he said that whilst the idea was good he didn’t think it blended with the film which he felt was more documentary. As such he suggested that I leave it out though leave my analysis and reasons for doing so as above. With this in mind the final version does not include the moth.