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"Spread Wings" Frame Shot

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In visual media, a character is framed in such a way that for a brief moment, it appears as if they have actually gained wings. However, it's soon revealed it was only a composition and a camera trick and the wings belong to an animal or a statue. Similar effects can be done with photography or advertising.

Similar to Background Halo, it makes for a very surprising and usually beautiful, stunning or awe-inspiring shot. The character is usually heavily connected to the symbolism of the winged creature, be it a butterfly, a bird of prey, a bat, a dragon, a demon or an angel. White feathered angelic wings mean the character is pure and innocent. Bat-like demonic wings signify the character is evil and diabolical. Butterfly wings might show that the character is beautiful but fragile.

See also Good Wings, Evil Wings.

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Subtrope of Symbolic Wings and Background Body Part.


Examples:

Advertising
  • Taylor Swift commissioned Kelsey Montague to create a mural of butterfly wings for people to pose in front of to promote her "ME!" music video.

Art

  • Artist Colette Miller created a series of murals of empty angel wings in Los Angeles that soon expanded to other locations. Posing in front of these murals became an Instagram fad as people posted to appear with wings.
  • Kelsey Montague is a street artist. Her work went viral when Taylor Swift posed in front of Kelsey's angel wing mural in New York's Nolita neighbourhood and posted it on her Instagram. Kelsey creates large-scale, interactive murals. Huge angel or butterfly wings for people and children to pose in front of pop up often among her credits.

Comic Books

  • Shutter has a "Spread Wings" Frame Shot on the cover of Issue 5 with Kate posed in front of a monster with a halo and angel wings. This makes her look like an angel.
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Films — Animated

  • Played for laughs in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. During the church meeting where the townpeople try to decide what to do about the Were-Rabbit attack, Lady Tottington, recommending Wallace for the job, appears to have wings and a halo from the pulpit behind her.note 
  • The Willoughbys: When Jane starts singing to comfort her brothers after their parents leave them for dead on a mountain in a blizzard, the Barnabys appear on either side of her leaning away from her body in a manner reminiscent of angel's wings. Her song is what leads to them being rescued.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: "Poor Jack" is staged with Jack lying dramatically on a statue of an angel holding an open book. At one point Jack sits up directly in front of the statue's head making it look like he has the angel's wings.

Live-Action Film

  • Birdman: Riggan is a washed-up actor who imagines his most famous role, the superhero Birdman, as a critical voice in his head. At one point, Riggan is walking on the street and now sees Birdman as a visible figure, who flies up behind him and for a second makes him look as if he has wings.
  • Mulan (2020): As Mulan asserts herself in her final fight against Bori Khan, her family's phoenix can be seen briefly spreading its wings behind her, giving her the appearance of having wings.
  • Peppermint has a poster with Riley standing in front of wall art that looks like angel wings. Closer inspection reveals that the "feathers" are actually bullets, which fits with how she is seen within the film — some characters view her as a protective guardian angel figure, others just see her as a killer.
  • When the judge admonishes Ichabod Crane at the beginning of Sleepy Hollow and sends him to the titular town, he appears to have wings. Those wings belong to a statue of an eagle (an emblem of America) behind him.
  • Twilight: When Edward is seated in the science class at school, there's a stuffed and mounted owl behind him. At one point, the camera view makes it look like the owl's wings belong to Edward. Owls are creatures of the night, very much like vampires.

Live-Action Television

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When Buffy is resurrected from the dead at the start of Season Six, she's walking through a graveyard and due to the camera angle she appears to have the wings growing from her back. The wings belong to a statue of an angel.
  • As Jonas lays dying in the Dark (2017) episode "Life and Death", his body is in between the two branches of the family tree Eva has compiled, which branch out and make him look like he has wings.
  • Doctor Who, "The Parting of the Ways": The Ninth Doctor says to the Emperor Dalek, "Am I gonna be one of your angels?" while an illuminated pattern of lines on the door behind him spreads out of his sides like wings.
  • Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne": As Queen Daenerys Targaryen approaches her troops in King's Landing, her dragon behind her is spreading his wings to fly up and for several moments, it looks as if the Dragon Queen grew a pair of dragon wings and as if she literally became a demonic dragon. The shot ended up becoming infamous among fans for its on-the-nose nature, with many joking about its perceived pretentiousness.
  • The Handmaid's Tale, "Household": Handmaid Ofjoseph aka June Osborne is used by Gilead's totalitarian fundamentalist Christian theocratic regime in a propaganda video aimed at Canadians. She and other handmaids (who are all oppressed, tortured and treated like sex slaves and baby factories) are gathered around a huge statue of an angel. Long-suffering June is walking from the statue and it looks like she has white feathery wings.
  • There is a shot in Impulse (2018) where Nicholas rests before a mural of wings lined up perfectly to make it look like he has angel wings.
  • Done for the season 3 poster of The Leftovers, with Kevin Garvey standing in front of a wall that is cracked to look like angel wings.
  • One poster for Lucifer (2016) has the titular Fallen Angel stand in front of a gate that looks like wings.
  • Supernatural: When Castiel first reveals himself as an angel, we see a lightning flash that reveals his spreading wings as shadows on the wall behind him since he can't show his true form to unworthy mortals. He gets this sort of shot every time he appears after a significant absence or is revving up his powers for an attack. Whenever an angel is killed, there is carbon scoring on the ground where they fall that always forms an outline of fully spread wings.

Video Games

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: Continuing with the Icarus motif from the previous game, promotional shots feature Adam Jensen standing in front of a rack of yellow lights posed to look like wings.
  • In Saints Row 2, when the Boss delivers a Rousing Speech to the newly-reformed Third Street Saints, they do so in front of the Saint of all Saints statue — an icon of the gang, depicting a young winged woman with a gun in each hand. Towards the end of the speech, when the Boss directs the gang to take over Stilwater, the Hitler Cam very deliberately frames them to make it look like the statue's wings are theirs, casting them as a Luciferan figure (this is much more obvious if the statue is fully restored at this pointnote ). Amusingly, the allusion comes full circle in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, when another member of the Saints, Johnny Gat, gets the actual, physical wings formerly belonging to the actual Lucifer grafted onto his back.

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