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Mise-en-Wren: Grand Admiral Thrawn's Office

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Mise-en-scène (French: [miz. ɑ̃. sɛn]; "placing on stage") is the stage design and arrangement of actors in scenes for a theatre or film production, both in visual arts through storyboarding, visual theme, and cinematography, and in narrative storytelling through direction.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s office is where he keeps his vast collection of different art pieces, weapons and armor from around the galaxy, many of them directly stolen from the people that they belong to. Ezra calls him out for this in the finale, but before that, we get to see his collection in some earlier episodes, and we’ll be analyzing the way that he keeps his office.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s Office

The basics of Thrawn’s office doesn’t differ much from the general appearance of the interior of Imperial ships or bases. Various shades of gray with harsh angles as accents, and cool-toned lights. However, we can clearly tell that Thrawn has made the office he resides in his own. Just in the image above, we can see he has one of his walls ornamented with statues of ysalamiri, which doubles as a reference to the old EU books he originally appeared in, and a visual demonstration of Thrawn’s hobby of art collecting and studying.

Thrawn’s collection is kept fairly dimly lit. Part of this is likely because in the screencap above, we see he has various holograms floating around, most of them relevant to the Ghost Crew- a visual nod to the fact that Thrawn uses studies of art to explore strategies to challenge his opponents with. In addition, showing villainous characters in low light is an age-old trope, so that likely plays some kind of role.

However, I think there’s more to the dimly lit office than that. Many museum exhibits are kept in low light to protect the artifacts and art that they show, and I think that’s the feeling we want to get through the scenes here- Thrawn holds a certain amount of reverence for his studies of art, and he treats them the way a museum would. Which adds another layer to Thrawn in Rebels as a representation of colonialism- museums (specifically those in the UK and the US) have been receiving more and more criticism for the role they play in the modern perpetuation of colonialism, by stealing artifacts from indigenous cultures, and refusing to return stolen artifacts to those cultures. Thrawn is similar- he steals art and important objects from people of different cultures, refusing to truly understand their meaning to the people he steals them from and keeping them for himself.

Ezra calls Thrawn out for this in the finale, but we can see this theme pop up again and again before that in the show, and the visuals of Thrawn’s office are just a part of that. But, we also create some strong visuals that mirror Thrawn as a character over a figure. The things he’s stolen all also look fairly out of place- the kalikori, the Jedi mask, the statue and the piece of the wall are all much more bright and colorful than the rest of the office, so they stick out- not unlike Thrawn does himself among the other Imperials in the show. He wears a white uniform in their colors, carries himself the same way they do, and has the same disdain for rebellion as the rest of the Imperials- but he’s a bright blue Chiss with red eyes. He stands out among the line-up of mostly human Imperials, and he is the only alien to have such an esteemed position- other alien Imperials in the show find themselves as Inquisitors, with the exception of Thrawn’s own bodyguard/assassin, Rukh.

Thrawn stands out among the rest of the Imperials, both in appearance and tactics, and he’s filled his Imperial-style space with various art that stands out in its space just as much as he does.

Next week, we’ll take a visit to the planet of Garel and to Takobo City.

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