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Melina Valencia

Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric


25 February 2015
This Is War
The conflict of war has become a prevalent issue as different stances emerge.
Despite it being a rather clich subject, war is still present in a jarring way. The band 30
Seconds to Mars joins in on this popular topic with the video for their song, This Is
War. The purpose of the video is clear: that although war seems to be a permanent
fixture in this world, it is still upsetting, tragic, and uncalled for. The music video conveys
this message through word design, images, and lyrics.
30 Seconds to Mars begins to set the mood for the video by clearly stating the
purpose of the song and informing the viewers of his stance on war. It opens up with a
quote from H.G Wells, If we dont end war it will end us. This leaves a strong impact
on the viewer and sets the mood for the song. It also adds credibility to the message of
the video, as H.G Wells was known for sympathizing with pacifist views. Immediately
after, a note is given, stating that this is a song about peace. The use of these statements
lets the audience know what direction the song and video are going to take. The title of
the song flashes on-screen and the design is daring with a red highlight suggestive of
danger and black words and background for evil and darkness. The music video takes it a
step further by using clips and photographs of historic events and people, super imposing
each image with the lyrics, Martyr, Leader, Victim, to name a few. For example, it
uses clips of soldiers fighting as the background for the superimposed Soldier with
similar coloring to the title and a still image of Gandhi lying on a bed with the title

Honest in blue, which is a softer color symbolizing someone good. The use of
historical people is important because the viewer recognizes them and can distinguish
who has made a positive impact and who has not. This is a simple directional technique,
but it has never failed to send shivers up peoples spine.
The video for This Is War culminates a series of powerful images and clips to
advocate peace and an end to war. Following the quote by H.G Wells and the note given
to the audience, it shows satellite images of the earth in a sepia tone, making the world
appear as though it is burning because of the war. It cuts quickly to a solider in an
American army uniform, which the viewer can infer to be the lead singer, Jared Leto. The
song begins and the video shows the setting, a barren desert. As it panes in on the soldiers
in the truck, the film takes on a grey-green tint. This filter on the clip makes the video
look more serious and mimics the tone in the song. At one point, the lead singer comes
onto the screen from the side, making it look like he is looking onto something greater.
He appears as a black silhouette against a sunset, still wearing the army uniform. While
he says, This Is War, he puts his gun up and this actions links together the video and the
song nicely. The song gets quieter until only the beat is heard, as the voices become the
main focus. The now audible diegetic voices gives the video another layer of depth
because it is not about the song and if the viewer likes it or not, but the words and their
meaning. The song gets more dramatic and scenes flicker in and out. Eventually, the
music lowers and diegetic dialogue is heard from the soldiers in the truck. It shows a
close up of a soldiers feet, backtracking slowly, adding suspense and the implication that
there is something he is afraid of. The next shot shows why. Three soldiers come into
display and metal is flying around in every direction. The lead singer draws the attention,

with his eyes and expression in full view as the other two soldiers are wearing sunglasses.
A side view of the three soldiers is shown, still not revealing what they are looking at.
Then, it goes back to Jared as a silhouette, with an extreme close up of his mouth,
emphasizing the words and their meaning. It, once again, shows the soldiers from a low
angle, suggesting that these are people to admire and look up to. Then it finally reveals
what the soldiers where looking at, a huge pyramidal mass of military debris: tanks,
fighter planes, cannons, and aircraft carriers to name a few. Against this, the soldiers look
miniscule, showing that even people who are supposed to be commendable are small in
comparison to the destruction that the war epidemic is leaving behind. The camera work
in this video is superb, leaving the purpose and message of this video to be unmistakable.
Lead singer, Jared Leto, writes This Is War with the intent of describing war
and its dangerous effects. The song starts of with a warning to the people, regardless of
their inherent beliefs because everyone is affected by war. He points out that this warning
is for soldiers, civilians, martyrs, and victims since war doesnt take into account whether
a person is good or bad. War is conglomeration of truths and lies; it is the moment to
either live or die, but most importantly, to fight. The song says, To the right, to the left,
we will fight to the death! This demonstrates that the only ending to war is death. It will
continue until all soldiers and civilians have died. Jared Leto goes on again to warn
prophets, liars, honest people, leaders, pariahs, victors, and messiahs that in war, no one
will come out unharmed. It speaks of what the human race really yearns for, which is a
new world free from pain, darkness, and strife. Jared believes this is attainable, as he
believes in the light, in good triumphing over the evils of war. The war can end, the
fighting can stop, and with it, a brave new world will emerge.

This Is War is a song about peace. Its purpose is to show that everyone has a
role in war and because of this, war should stop since no one comes out unscathed. It
invites people to take an active stance in pursing peace. The music video is able to
communicate this message through the use of word design, images, and lyrics.

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