deathisyourart: (LIFE - Charlie Zen)
Title: Patterns
Vidder: Lithiumdoll ([profile] halcyon_shift)
Fandom: Life
Link: Website

Commentary By: [personal profile] deathisyourart

- Brief depictions of violence and screencaps of crime scene photos. All screencaps taken from Lithiumdoll's vid.
- Extremely image HEAVY with 48 screencaps (320x181 pixels each).
- Spoilers for all of season 1
- British English spelling :P

Lithiumdoll surprised me two Christmases ago by giving me this vid, and I have been amazed by it ever since. Though it does not require source context to be understood on a general level, I will give a brief overview of the season 1 storyline and at times mention the contextual happenings within source clips to explain how I interpreted different sections.

Story as a whole & visual tools:

The story for the vid parallels the season 1 storyline of Charlie Crews, former beat cop and prison inmate. Charlie Crews was framed for the murder of his friends, the Seabolts, and one of their two children; he then served 12 years in prison before being released when DNA evidence proved that he had not been at the scene of the crime. Part of Charlie's settlement for the botched initial investigation was the opportunity to return to the police force as a detective, and Charlie uses this position to help himself investigate the Seabolt's true murderer. All the while Charlie has to fight the violent patterns of behaviour he picked up while in prison; decide if he is a cop, a con, or both; and figure out who he can and cannot trust on the police force.

Like the show the vid uses parallels, repeat imagery and visual similarities to convey the idea that everything is connected, and that certain patterns of events and behaviour will repeat themselves. Also, brief white flashes are used as a transitional tool within the vid to denote flashes of memory, and gun muzzle flashes

Song Choice: Patterns by Simon & Garfunkel

The song in lyrics and tone match the show so well that I want to believe it was partly responsible for inspiring the show. The song is not overproduced; it has a quite menace and at times a playful tone to it that hides how truly dark its subject matter is.

The pattern of my LIFE, and the puzzle that is me
This lyric spoken prior to the bridge section fully describes both the show and the character of Charlie Crews: Charlie believes that everything is connected; that there is sense to be made, and patterns in everything; that if he can find the connections then he can piece together the puzzle that is his friend's murder, why he went to prison, and who he has become as a result.

0:00 - 0:04 Jumping between shots on every guitar note, Patterns begins with short clips of black and white crime scene photos, and a child's depiction of the events with blood from a red crayon capturing the eye.

0:05 – 0:10 The vid shows Charlie inside his cell, motionless and staring, reliving the memories of all the evidence that put him in prison. Then, we go back to the evidence but this time it is in colour; the case was reopened and using DNA evidence Charlie was found innocent of the murders after serving 12 years in prison. These shots of evidence are not only in colour, but some of them are repeated from the previous section with some new clips being introduced; like the evidence the memories are now more recent and more clear, there are new pieces mixed in with the old, and missing pieces of a puzzle that now tell a full story in technicolour.

If you look closely at the screencap of the boy's shoe (picture #6 above and below) you will notice a small pile of puzzle pieces.

0:10 Charlie's eyes flutter and close on the note that sounds like a mistake. It feels almost painful, as if the memories and realization are too much for him to bare; he is free after 12 years.

The vid fades out to white and then fades in from the sun. There are many white flashes throughout this vid that will hint at flashes of memories, the flash from the muzzle of a gun, and the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

0:16 I'm pointing them out simply because I LOVE these titles! The font, the Kerning, the fade in an out of a clip reminiscent of the sun clip from a moment ago, all of it!

The night sets softly with the hush of falling leaves, Casting shivering shadows on the houses through the trees,

Post-titles the vid begins with Charlie looking at a blank wall and there is a flash of a complex diagram of clues, evidence and potential suspects representing who and what may have been involved in framing him for the murder of his friends. Though Charlie is out of prison and back in the sun the darkness of his frame-up still hangs over him, there are still unanswered questions, and though he is a cop once again he cannot trust the cops around him because any one of them could have been involved in sending him to prison. The fact that Charlie doesn't trust and isn't wanted by those around him is tied to the lyric "casting shivering shadows on the houses through the trees", and is punctuated within the vid by intercutting clips of officers watching him on the job and the correctional officers at Pelican Bay beating him up.

00:31 The shot of Charlie tapping his fingers in a sequence here is one of my favourite shots of the series, and it is off-beat just enough without completely conflicting with the music.

And the light from a street lamp paints a pattern on my wall

0:32 – 0:38 Lithiumdoll uses a clip of Dani (his new partner) in which the police siren lights flash over her face to connect the character of Dani to the lyric, and then follows it up with a clip of Charlie drawing a line on his wall-of-clues that leads to a picture of her. Charlie believes Dani to be connected in some way to the conspiracy, or at least a pawn in the game the department is playing with him. It also sets up the further use of her character later in the vid.

Like the pieces of a puzzle, or a child's uneven scrawl

0:40 - 0:44 Here the vid intercuts back and forth between a scene of Charlie writing a question over Rachel Seabolt's picture on the wall, and the drawings that Rachel made after her parents and brother were killed (despite the investigating detective's insistence that she wasn’t in the house at the time of the murders). The question Charlie writes is, “Did she see?” Is Rachel the final piece of the puzzle -- the witness who knows who the true murderer is?

Up a narrow flight of stairs, in a narrow little room, As I lie upon my bed in the early evening gloom.

The little room upstairs can be representative of a lot of things: Charlie keeps his secret wall-of-clues in a narrow walk-in closet upstairs, Rachel Seabolt's bedroom where Charlie realizes the secret that she had to have been home the night of the murders is a little room upstairs in the Seabolt house, the narrow little room is his prison cell where Charlie was locked away to hide the truth, and the metaphorical place inside his head where he keeps himself locked away from the harm of 12 years in prison. All secrets, locked away in tiny rooms both literal and metaphorical.

The vid is fairly literal here with depictions of Charlie climbing the stairs to go up to Rachel Seabolt's room, as well as using locks and fences to represent being locked away and confined. Mixed in with these images are shots of Charlie hunting an accomplice to a child killer, and shots of Charlie meeting a coyote that has been roaming around his house. The coyote is a metaphor for Charlie himself, a free animal that people tried to fence away, but ultimately survived to roam free.

Impaled on my wall my eyes can dimly see

Looking at Rachel Seabolt's old room and the crime scene photos Charlie realizes that Rachel had to have been in the house at the time of the murder, and that her drawings were not just nightmares after losing her family. Rachel saw and drew the real killer.

The pattern of my life and the puzzle that is me.

The resolution of the hunt for Lonnie Garth (the 9 fingered crack addict and unwitting accomplice of a child killer) with Charlie laying down the dying man overlayed with the evidence picture of the Seabolt's son lying dead. In the series Charlie tells Lonnie who at the time is high, confused, and dying after being shot by Charlie for firing on his partner, "it was just a bad dream. Go back to sleep." (The Seabolt's son was sleeping just before he was murdered) Which is a compassionate response to a man who was a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is Charlie now: a complex puzzle of empathy and vengeance.

From the moment of my birth to the instant of my death

1:18 The lyric From the moment of my birth is matched to Charlie reading The Path to Zen in his prison cell. Charlie used this book to save himself in prison; to be reborn to the positive light of Zen Buddhism.

1:21 Charlie at the gun range and pictures of himself as a beat cop prior to the arrest are paired with the lyric to the instant of my death. White flashes are added over the pictures to mimic the white flash of the muzzle; signifying, that the man he was before, the cop surrounded by his peers, was destroyed. Whereas, the Zen Buddhist Detective Charlie Crews was born through the transformation process of a 12 year prison sentence.

There are patterns I must follow, Just as I must breathe each breath

1:26 Charlie's knife comes into play here, with the knife representing who he has become in order to survive: the convict with the prison way of handling things. It is a pattern of behaviour that he cannot just stop, just like he can't just stop breathing; it is part of who he is as a living being.

Like a rat in a maze the path before me lies, And the pattern never alters until the rat dies

The vid moves between three scenes: Charlie's fight with Cudahey in a fast food restaurant bathroom, the fight that he lost in the cafeteria in prison, and the arrest of Manny Umaga. The first is how Charlie deals with those he really dislikes when it is not in an official police capacity, the second is where he learned how to do it, and the third is a return to the initial scene with the knife and where his convict nature shows up within the vid.

1:40 & 1:44 Charlie looking at himself in the mirror as he tries to come to terms with who he is now, and what pattern of behaviour he employs to handle things now. Mirror staring is automatic inner reflection time! Charlie’s time in prison has forever changed him, and he will either be this convict, or have to fight this convict side of himself until the day he dies.

In the series Dani asks Charlie for his knife, and when he asks her why she wants it, she responds, "I need to know that my partner is a cop and not a con". The knife represents the side of Charlie that will always be a convict, and handing it to Dani is a leap of faith that he can trust her with that part of himself.

1:47 - 2:02 During this bridge section the vid starts with Charlie passing Dani the knife; as mentioned above, she wants to have a full cop partner beside her, and Charlie needs to know if he can trust Dani with the part of himself that is still a convict. We then see clips of Crews sharing with Dani: talking, offering her fruit (his zest for life on the outside), backing her up as a partner, and being her friend during times when her previous addictions play a role. The section ends with Dani giving Charlie back his knife signaling that she now fully trusts him as both the cop and the con.

1:54 I really like the timing of the overhead shot of Charlie lifting Dani into the bathtub, and the match of her legs swinging over to the guitar.

And the pattern still remains on the wall where darkness fell

2:04 Now that Charlie knows that he can trust Dani fully she is no longer suspected as knowing more about his frame-up, or considered as someone who is watching him for the department; but there are other people still involved, so he must go back to the evidence and follow another lead. This is shown in the vid by a brief overlay of the wall with it's diagram-of-clues (as it was prior to being taken down in order protect Charlie during a police search of the house), as if Charlie is remembering what he had but must start over and look at the clues from a new perspective The pattern in this instance is the diagram depicting the suspects and clues, and the wall where darkness fell is this wall now empty but still representing his need for answers and for vengeance towards the ones who framed him for murder. He can’t just leave it, or walk away; he has to know.

And it's fitting that it should, for in darkness I must dwell

When Charlie discovers the man who murdered the Seabolts and whom he went to prison for we see Charlie turning away from his Zen teachings by looking away from his book and by throwing the Zen Buddism tape out of the car window. The violent convict patterns want to take over and Charlie moves back into darkness, because he can't just let it go and move on with his life yet.

Like the color of my skin, or the day that I grow old

The other police officers pull their guns on Charlie and at 2:17 there is a brief shot of Charlie’s badge before he runs away from the officers; he is both a cop and a convict, right down to the bone.

2:19 The pattern is repeated but in reverse here with shots of Charlie in his jail cell with walls that look like fencing, and a shot of him waiting as the fence opens. The convict and then the cop, who then pulls his gun on a criminal. Charlie grows older simply by saving himself here.

My life is made of patterns that can scarcely be controlled

02:25 The knife returns again right on the word "patterns", because the violent side of Charlie wants to come out, it wants to do harm to the man responsible for his friends' death and for his own incarceration for 12 years, and he is barely able to keep those violent tendencies at bay.

2:28 This moment where Charlie smiles while holding the knife matched to the lyric "scarcely be controlled" is unsettling in the very best sense, and shows just how dangerous Charlie can be.

2:30 – end Ultimately, Charlie chooses to not give into the convict inside of him, but to turn back to being a cop, walking out of the prison and attempting to leave that part of his life behind him while moving forward. The closing credits are set up just as the opening credits, and then Charlie returns to where he threw the Zen tape; choosing to keep fighting the darkness inside him he picks up the tape.

I hope you all enjoyed the vid and the commentary! If you are not completely mentally exhausted after reading all of the above, then I welcome discussion of this piece in comments. Note: I check LJ comments more frequently than DWidth comments. :D


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