I hereby present all the symbolism I've found in the BTS music video for Blood, Sweat & Tears. I've analysed statues, artworks, 'Demian' quotes and more, in an attempt to understand the convoluted music video.
At the beginning of the music video, the boys enter an art museum. There are lots of statues to examine here.
Let's have a quick look at what's going on.
Rap Monster is reading a book to Jungkook. I'm going to assume that he's reading 'Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth' by Herman Hesse, since the quotes Rap Monster read in the Wings short films (and in this music video too) are from 'Demian'.
Towards the end of this music video, Rap Monster reads another quote from the book:
"He too was a tempter; he, too, was a link to the second [world],
the evil world with which I no longer wanted to have anything to do."
In 'Demian' this is a quote in which Sinclair thinks about Demian who is a friend and mentor to Sinclair.
The story of Sinclair and Demian makes me think about how BTS have been paired off for the purpose of this MV; a younger member with an older mentor-like member.
1. Jungkook and Rap Monster
2. Jimin and Suga
3. V and J-Hope
If you truly want to uncover all the symbolism in this new MV and the short films, I urge you to read 'Demian', as it's all very complex to talk about here... You can read 'Demian' online here.
Now let's have a look at the actual room that the opening scene of the MV reveals, and mor importantly, what is in it. While Jungkook and Rap Monster are busy reading their book, V and J-Hope are admiring a statue. So let's do the same...
[If you don't want to know about the statues, scroll down until you see a screenshot of Jin looking at that big painting.]
I shall start with the statue that J-Hope and V are admiring. I was unable to find the original but my art background tells me that it looks an awful lot like a Four Seasons statue of Autumn.
Four Seasons statues are four piece sculpture sets, one sculpture for each Season. The Autumn sculptures are usually depicted with a goblet in one hand and in the other grapes, or another such autumn harvest. Autumn is a time of transition during which wine is typically made (grapes mature into wine, which has historically been associated with intellect).
The statue to their right (torso and head) is a torso extract of the famous sculpture 'Laocoon and His Sons' which is often talked about as being the icon for complete suffering and agony.
The statue behind the Autumn sculpture seems to be an extract of 'Marble Statue of a Youth' which is a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture that represents Youth (ties in nicely with BTS's usual themes, doesn't it?).
We'll get to the bronze statue in a bit, where we can see it better, but first let's take the remaining statues.
When they first enter the Museum we can see the many statues and to the very left of the room is another famous one. 'Venus de Milo' by Greek sculptor Alexandros of Antioch-on-the-Meander. It is thought that Venus originally held the Apple of Discord in her left hand.
The Apple of Discord was a gold apple that gave eternal beauty. Three goddesses fought over this Apple, and their fighting escalated so much that it started the Trojan war, which is why it's called the Apple of Discord.
So we have Youth, beauty, and an Apple, which tie in well with everything else we see in the music video.
Here we see Suga and Jimin with a statue and it's not just any statue. The statue represents a crouching Venus, surprised in her bath. There are many versions of this motif. This piece is called 'Vénus Accroupie' by an unknown artist found in the French King Louis XIV's collection.
Venus is a Roman goddess often associated with love, fertility, seduction and desire. She is also a mother figure who is said to be the mother of the Roman people. It is precisely desire and motherhood that I see as the important symbols from this considering the other symbols we'll discuss in this MV.
Before we move on to other things, there is a statue that I promised we would get back to.
This is the sculpture 'Perseus With the Head of Medusa' by Benvenuto Cellini. It presents Perseus winning over Medusa who had hair made of snakes that could turn any man into stone.
In the context of this MV, I place importance on this statue as a symbol of overcoming evil and also of exposing that evil doesn't last forever (or rather that evil and good go hand in hand, and that one cannot truly exist without the other).
Here we have a painting that many bright Armys have recognised as 'The Fall of the Rebel Angels' by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
This introduces the theme of fallen angels which continues throughout the MV. It is interesting to note that the fallen angels in this painting are also partly beastly and half human and half demons or monsters.
The classical piece of music that plays in the background at this moment of the music video is Bach's 'Mass in B minor'.
We might also note that there is a door on either side of the painting. One white and one black. More references to opposite choices and opposites co-existing.
Uh the music is about to start!
They are assembled in a room and Suga covers Jimin's eyes. This symbolism is repeated later and I'll treat it then.
In the background there is a neon sign with English writing. Only part of it shows, but I believe it says: "The Tempter" which would tie in with the quote from 'Demian' that Rap Monster recites in the MV.
Behind the Neon lights is the painting of 'The lament for Icarus' by H. J. Draper.
Icarus was trapped on Crete with his father. Icarus' father made wings out of feathers and wax for them to escape the island. His father warned Icarus not to fly too low so the humidity from the sea would not ruin the wings and also asked him not to fly too high so the sun would melt the wax that kept his wings together.
Icarus ignored his father's warnings and flew too close to the sun. The wax melted his wings off and Icarus fell to his death.
This painting is famous for depicting Icarus with his wings intact and beautiful, even though the legend states that the wings were ruined and fell off when the wax melted.
Out of all the paintings of Icarus that they could have chosen, I believe there is some significance in the fact that they chose this one.
We continue see Jungkook in the same room as where they were all assembled were earlier. Here he is on a swing and seems almost like he is flying, and later in the MV he really does fly (or levitate).
This refers back to the book 'Demian' that Rap Monster reads to Jungkook. In the book Sinclair says that he is afraid of dreams in which he is able to fly.
Pistorius is a mentor figure to Sinclair and an organ player (like how Suga plays the organ in the MV). He tells Sinclair that this fear Sinclair has of his flying dreams.
"It is the feeling of being linked with the roots of power, but one soon becomes afraid of this feeling. It's damned dangerous! That is why most people shed their wings and prefer to walk and obey the law. But not you. You go on flying. And look! You discover that you gradually begin to master your flight [...] Lacking that, you would be drawn up to the heights, powerless - which is what happens to madmen."
Guys did you see that? Sinclair' organ-playing mentor, Pistorius, indirectly tells him about Icarus! It's all beginning to come together.
Here we have Rap Monster with a green liquid. The liquid is called Absinthe, or the green fairy. It's a hallucinogenic alcohol. It's prepared by putting a spoon over a glass of Absinthe and melting a sugar cube on it (traditionally with a candle like Rap Monster does).
Absinthe was a very popular drug for writers in Paris in the 1900s and when you look at Rap Monster's room it seems to belong in the same era. There are books all around and remember that Rap Monster is the one who always reads aloud. He is the writer in this story.
Likely he is Herman Hesse, the author of 'Demian' who lived from 1877 to 1962, exactly during the time at which Absinthe was commonly consumed by writers all around Europe.
Later in the MV Rap Monster gives the tempting drug of Absinthe to Jungkook. He tempts Jungkook to the dark side (Boy Meets Evil).
We get an image of a painted bird which ties back into 'Demian' and the short films.
In 'Demian', Sinclair also paints a bird:
"I had painted something, a bird struggling out of the globe. I sent him this painting. After a time I found a piece of paper with the following words written on it: 'The bird fights it's way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who must be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God's name is Abraxas.' [..] We may conceive that the name [Abraxas] as that of a godhead whose symbolic task is the uniting of godly and devilish elements."
This might sound a little complicated right now, but it's the main theme and by the end it'll make sense.
Rap Monster and Jungkook's room is full of green smoke, and the also comes into Suga's room, which is directly above Rap Monster and Jungkook's room. The green fairy smoke affects him too.