hazelk: (Default)
Title: Half Acre
Vidders: [livejournal.com profile] jarrow and [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro
Fandom: Six Feet Under
Links: http://jarrow272.inverteddungeon.com/videos.html or http://www.laurasha.com/vids/
Commentary by:[personal profile] hazelk
Warnings: Sadness and joy. Also Brit spelling, misplacement of commas and abuse of aspect ratios (sorted). 24 images, 216-653x135

I love this vid. I don’t know the source (Six Feet Under) that well. I watched the first season and a good part of the second but then the BBC started moving it to inaccessible timeslots and replacing random episodes with snooker tournaments so I lost track. I do know who all the people are but I don’t know what they did and have very little idea of the specific context for most of the images making up the vid. That may be a strength because, although I can’t know how it works as a vid about the show, perhaps I can see more clearly how it encapsulates the story's underlying themes. For me, it’s a vid of the allshow, the ideal show, the platonic Six Feet Under. It’s tempting to call it a vid about family but “family” has been co-opted and bound to such a narrow focus and this vid is more big-hearted than that. It’s a vid about people and connections and generations. About time, about memories and dreams. About hurt and healing, about death and life. About the old giving way to the young and the young becoming wise. It’s also about Claire Fisher.

Claire is the youngest of three siblings, she’s just finishing high school as the show begins. She’s the artistic one. The vid begins and ends with her but she acts more as its narrator than its protagonist, so the protagonist is everyone she loves. Nate, the older, brother is something of a drifter and has relationships with several different women during the course of the show. David, the younger, is more conventional and repressed. He has a boyfriend, Keith. The series begins with the death of the father, Nate Snr. Their mother Ruth re-marries at some point. The two brothers run an undertaker's business from the family home. If you’re reading this without having watched the show, now you know everything I knew going into the vid. If you watched the show or read the Wikipedia page on it you know much more.

The song is deceptively simple. I think you'd call it progressive folk. A woman’s voice, a piano, a harp or possibly a harpsichord, some strings and, for one bridge, a glockenspiel as her accompaniment. It begins with just a piano setting out the beat. One-two-three, one-two-three and the vid whites in, driving down one of those endless roads that disappear into the distant movie horizon. So it’s about a journey but whether from somewhere or to somewhere and who the driver is we don’t know. A second clip reveals a young woman in a blue car, a second instrument begins to fill out the beat and the scene shifts to two children waltzing around their father on the front lawn of a distinctive Victorian mansion.

This last scene is bathed in the preternaturally bright light of memory, the father is Nate Snr, Nate and David the boys. Claire arrives next, first as a red-headed girl-baby in a window of framed photos, then in a five year old’s self-portrait, lastly as a teenage girl skipping down the stairs in a scratchy home video.

I am holding half an acre

The sequence ends in the present day of the show, with the whole family at breakfast. These images form a temporal series, the half-acre of the lyric is not a place but a time. Hands brushing along the photographs and down the banister hold a history, a life in pictures.

Torn from the map of Michigan
And folded in this scrap of paper

The where of it comes next. First the house, front lawn abandoned, sunlight long gone. Inside, a empty hallway then up to view the artwork decorating a bedroom wall. Unfolded from paper (in beautifully timed delayed counterpoint to the lyric) is a photograph of a man walking through flames.

is a land I grew in

Claire unwraps the picture and the camera shifts to her looking pensive in her first close up. Were this a character study you’d expect it to linger on that shot. But it switches to reveal a new face, that of David the flesh and blood incarnation of man in the photograph. He smiles, she smiles, it ends with her smiling and enters the bridge.

I love the following transition.
There’s a Russian doll effect to the way the figure of Nate fits inside Claire’s face and the walls of the dollhouse enclose the door of the room. As the crossfades continue that fractal structure is repeated, the dollhouse is a house within a house. An empty house like the real Fisher house that began the previous sequence. It ends once more with Claire smiling, picking up her brother’s motion as he peers into the rooms of the dollhouse and looks up.

Think of every town you've lived in,
Every room you lay your head,
And what is it that you remember?

Introductions completed the vid proper begins. Structurally (massively over-simplifying) it tells its story through a series of montages each defined by a different emotion. If I had to name it this first one might be “pensive,” as the lyric implies

Nate and then David stare out across the screen then, from the other side, their mother Ruth. Her gaze brings things around to the centre and Claire tracing a circular pattern on a sketch book which fades into the circle of candles on a birthday cake. Nate draws breath in a big ‘O’ and blows. The candle flames become the rising sun flaring as a car leaves the garage…

But the song is turning, the music falling, the lyric becoming somber

Do you carry every sadness with you?
Every hour your heart was broken
Every night the fear and darkness…

A new theme maybe “Sad” or “Alone” forms a progression

Nate standing, Ruth seated, David falling to his knees in desperate prayer on the word ‘darkness.’

lay down with you…

Things get dark, literally dark but with the final line of the verse a new day dawns and the image switches to a funeral, almost the photonegative of the previous scene, dark-clothed people in bright sunlight. Public grief not private terror, orderly and calm. Claire looks over to see the image of her father, an incongruously colourful ghost in a Panama hat and Hawaiian shirt

His headstone provides the title for a Daddy sequence to run over the bridge.

A series of two shots - for the first time people are not alone. In typical paradox the dead are a comfort, they cannot be alone. Nate Snr lives on only in the memories of those who knew him, in his absence he brings them together.

A man is walking on the highway
A woman stares out at the sea
And light is only now just breaking

The link to this next verse is a man running, a reminder of the journey theme. That journey began with a death and now progresses to encompass what’s supposed to be the happy every after. Reader, they got married.
So we carry every sadness with us
Every hour our hearts were broken
Every night the fear and darkness lay down with us

As before the chorus shatters the idyll. In this second iteration the grief is more intense, the sadness no longer in question but also shared, cathartic.

As before it ends in darkness but doesn’t end. This time the lead into the bridge is carried by Ruth’s gaze and where Claire saw her father Ruth is looking to the next generation, a sleeping child.

A glockenspiel start playing. It’s tempting to call this next section simply “babies, babies, babies.” Children run round rooms, slide down spiral slides (this vid is full of circles) bounce on castles and generally take centre stage.

The celebratory mood carries over into the final reprise both in the vid and the song.

But I am holding half an acre
torn from the map of Michigan
I am carrying this scrap of paper

As before it begins with a series of photographs. But the home they introduce is warmly lit, welcoming and full of people, the scrap of paper introduces a party, several parties

That can crack the darkest sky wide open
Every burden taken from me
Every night my heart unfolding

It may not last. However, where before Claire was a passive viewer of her past, now we see her taking an active part in capturing those images


my home


It’s time to move on. The people fade becoming small and distant, Claire grows very large, the road runs through her. Forward towards that never quite reachable horizon, back into the roots of her. She is a journey, caught in a moment, forever coming home.


Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.



18 19