The Red Tree
By Shaun Tan
Choose one of the following images and analyse it using STEAL:
S- Make a statement by identifying what is happening in the text.
T- Identify the visual or language techniques being used in the text.
E- Give the example from the text including a quote.
A- Analyse the technique.
L- Linking back to the overall themes in the text.
"Darkness overcomes you"
Statement: This image is representative of the impact of depression on someone's life and how someone can feel entrapped by the world around them
Technique: Salient image of the giant fish, juxtaposition, metaphor.
Example: "Darkness overcomes you"
Analysis: This is representative of depression, hopelessness and feeling like you can't escape.
Link: This links with Billy's 'Angry Dance' scene.
"The world is a deaf machine"
Statement: This image conveys the idea that society is a place that values conformity and denies individual expression and creativity
Technique(s): Metaphor, low angle shot & costuming
Example: "The world is a deaf machine"
Analysis: The low angle shot of the 'deaf machine' is menacing and overpowering. The identical costuming conveys uniformity to social expectations.
Link: Billy has to constantly defend himself and get through to his family who, at first, refuse to take him seriously and forbid his self expression through dance.
"Or who you are meant to be"
Statement: This image conveys the ideal self or the persona that society expects people to conform with.
Technique(s): large font "who", illustration
Example: "Or who you are meant to be"
Analysis: People feel pressured to be someone they are not and try to reflect an ideal self. This image shows the negative impact of this by drawing a shell or the mere outline of someone's true self/full potential
Link: Billy feels the pressure to conform to masculine gender stereotypes of his patriarchal society.
"Just as you imagined it would be"
Statement: This image represents self-discovery, self-acceptance and freedom from depression
Technique(s): Motif, symbolic use of red colour, lighting & body language
Example: Just as you imagined it would be
Analysis: This image reflects the idea that you can only truly discover your full potential when you are open to achieving it
Link: This links with Billy's finale dance, where he truly expresses who he is and discovers his full potential.
"Sometimes you wait and wait..."
Statement: This image depicts the significant amount of time which has passed since the central character has been dealing with depression.
Technique(s): Repetition of images from different viewpoints. The character is shown with more and more background (zoom).
Example: The character is tallying time on top of a snail.
Analysis: This image depicts that time is passing slowly for the character. She is on top of a snail which signifies that the time she has spent in a depressive state has felt slow and has been happening for a long period of time.
Link: This links with Billy's pirouette scene. He practises over and over for a long period of time.
"Then All your troubles come at once"
Statement: This image shows the character in a small boat amongst a sea of dangerous waves and gigantic metal structures.
Technique(s): Vector lines, colour, juxtaposition, perspective.
Example: The mega structure is aimed towards and enclosing on the character.
Analysis: This shows how the character feels as though the pain and suffering is all encompassing.
Link: This links with Billy's angry dance.
"wonderful things are passing you by"
Statement: This image depicts the life that the character wishes she could be a part of.
Technique: foreground/ background, colour
Example: The character is seen as a faded image in the background, whereas the life she wishes to be a part of is unattainable and locked by 'regret' in the foreground.
Analysis: This shows that the character is unable to access the life she wishes to have. The window is locked with the words 'regret'; engraved on it. This shows that she regrets the decisions she has made which led her to this way of life.
Link: This links with the crossing the line scene. Jackie regrets the decisions he has made in the past.
"terrible fates are inevitable"
Statement: This image shows how life is all about chance and you cant always control what happens.
Technique: Metaphor, colour
Example: The character is seen holding a dice and walking towards danger.
Analysis: This shows how life will not always happen the way you want it to. The events which shape our journey are 'inevitable'.
Link: This Links with the finale. The paths which Billy chose were not always easy, but he had to take them anyway.