deej: “Gay For Kahlan” with an AMAZING action shot of her cleavage and swooshy hair! ([legend of the seeker] gay for kahlan!)
Title: ...and The Ladies With Pretty Hair
Vidder: [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker / Merlin
Link: community.livejournal.com/sync_slaying/14408.html
Commentary By: [profile] _deejay_
Spoilers: Seeker up to 1x11, all of Merlin s1
Warnings: Magical themes, PG violence, and so much awesome your head might explode.

Omg guys, let's talk about magical stereotypes! (Yeh this isn't the most serious commentary you'll read this week :P)



If you're familiar with [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl's vids, then I'm sure you're also familiar with a vague aching feeling in the part of your brain that deals with parallels, metaphors and subtext, at the mere mention of her name. HWG makes interpretative, meta-provoking, thesis-worthy vids.

...Which is why I chose one of her least cerebral vids for [community profile] vid_commentary :P Although, as I found out while compiling this commentary, this vid is STILL choc full of ideas, despite looking like a bit of a stroll in the park. Foiled again by [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl, lol!

Song choice

One of [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl's signatures is unconventional song choices. (Case in point: His 'n Hers [Ashes to Ashes].) For ...And The Ladies With Pretty Hair she's chosen ‘Running’ by Menomena, a fast-paced, slightly off-kilter, almost overblown song (I mean come on, they have a cow mooing at the end of the freaking chorus! Hah!). The song's a little fantastical, and so is the fantasy-swords-and-magic genre, so it fits super-snugly.

♪ It's safe to say I'm walking a lot
It's safe to say I'm thinner
It's safe to say if we don't find food soon
We won't make it through winter


My interpretation of the lyrics is that they're the thoughts of a soldier nearing the end of his tether in hard times of war. Richard, Merlin and their companions are soldiers who fight the classic fantasy war between good and evil and we see them tramping around the countryside, fighting mental and physical exhaustion, and acting as a mini-army for freedom, love, awesomeness and all good things ( :P ) on behalf of The People, so the lyrics are a tight match, despite not being much of them.


An unusual format

...And The Ladies With Pretty Hair doesn't quite fit any of your regular vidding categories. It's not narrative; it's not AU; it's not shipper; it's not crack nor comedy — in fact I think it's an essay — in the write-an-argument-but-with-pictures sense — about the clichés of the fantasy genre. Instead of telling a story, [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl is arguing a point; presenting an AMAZING amount of visual evidence in an unrelenting ‘compare and contrast’ format to prove to us that Legend of the Seeker and Merlin, two tv shows in the fantasy genre, use a lot of the same fantasy elements.

It's a beautiful revelation to watch unfold. The fact that [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl noticed, let alone compiled it so well, is staggering.


Housekeeping

For anyone who's not seen one or both of these shows I've organised the caps in pairs with the ones on the left from Legend of the Seeker and the ones from Merlin's on the right :)


Parallels, parallels, parallels



We open with one of the very ultimate fantasy stereotypes: magical swords: The Sword of Truth and Excalibur. Dont ask me how she did it, but the earth vs water, warm tones vs cold tones, and left angle vs right angle that [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl contrasts here kills me softly with comparisons. And hooboy, it's only the beginning.




OH LOOK, WE FOUND THE LADIES WITH PRETTY HAIR XDDD Interesting how similar our heroines Kahlan and Morgana look, yes?




And now, the heros to our heroines, both displaying the uncanny sword-mastery all medieval heroes seem to have.




♪ It's safe to say I'm walking a lot / It's safe to say I'm thinner

The stolid tone of the opening lyrics nicely mirrors the idea of the hero's journey, which is essentially what the fantasy genre is about. Meanwhile, both Kahlan and Morgana are shown seeing the deaths of their heroes in their nightmares. Apparently it's a pre-req for damsels to fret for their heroes, not matter how much ass they (see: mostly Kahlan) are capable of kicking :P




Arrow dodging! Just in case we'd forgotten that the fantasy genre has given the Good Guys enhanced everything senses, including bullet-time skillz!




Hood-wearing heroines! And the similarity isn't only visual: both Kahlan and Morgana wear their hoods in respect for the dead1 — Kahlan during a hanging, and Morgana at her father's grave.




♪ It's safe to say if we don't find food soon / We won't make it through winter

Here we have compared clips of villagers receiving leadership from our heroes. Interestingly, Arthur saved the villagers he's pictured with from starvation, a perfect tie-in to the lyrics. I refuse to believe that was a lucky coincidence. *looks accusingly at HWG*




♪ I'm walking, I'm running, I'm picking up speed




♪ I'm threatening to explode

I didn't spot this till the several hundredth watch, but [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl's rather cleverly spotted two of our heroine's weakest moments: both in the forest, and both of which are a form of betrayal. When tied to the accompanying lyrics, it's a golden moment, because Kahlan's powers almost do literally do explode when she gives in to temptation and kisses Richard. For Morgana, it's her anger at Uther that gets out of control, making her seek the help of an assassin to kill her patron and King.








♪ I'm going to make it / We're going to make it / Before the cows come home / Before the cows come home

This whole 15 second section has the most wonderful rhythm to it. With the song telling us “We're going to make it” we're shown a series of matching ‘fight scene’ moments in Seeker and Merlin. Particularly love the first beats with Morgana and Kahlan — their movements are timed to the beat of the song so when Kahlan TKOs the soldier it's like a visual punch in the gut — WOW.





TOTALLY GIF-WORTHY:



Here we get a glorious character-comparision between Nimueh (Merlin) and Shota (Seeker), both sorceresses that create mischief for the heroes and, coincidentally, both own magic water bowls and enjoy performing magics with them! HWG's mastery is so subtle here: she's swapped clips of Richard's foretold death and put it in Nimueh's bowl, and done the same for Arthur, putting his foretold death into Shota's bowl. It's some technically elegant masking, but also another genius ‘compare and contrast’ moment pointing out how both shows have such similar characters, storylines, and visual elements, that they're practically interchangeable!




There's those classic swords again. Note the little things HWG takes care to show to make the comparison so vivid: here, both swords are being handled, but the handlers are out of frame, making the swords the point of interest. In the hands of a lesser vidder we might have got compared shots of the heroes holding the swords in some random scene with so much background noise that visual impact would be lost. EVERYTHING HWG DOES HAS A MEANING. SRSLY.




You really need to watch the vid to appreciate this moment. Not only has the song paused excruciatingly while a snare drum taps out a tension-building ‘wait for it...!!!’ like you get before the classic ye olde hanging in the movies, but:
– The drum mirrors the pitter patter of the liquids entering the chalices!
– Rahl's cup accepts blood as his victim dies, while conversely Merlin holds a chalice filling with magical life-giving rain.
[personal profile] hollywoodgrrl's cropped and zoomed us in and out to further bring home the contrast she's making.

I MEAN ARE YOU GUYS SEEING THIS?! Whee! Radical!!

But wait, there's more!




Men in power, Rahl (Seeker) and Uther (Merlin) respectively, exercising their so called right to kill whoever annoys them. Once again with [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl's freakish parallels: both executions are beheadings O_O




Wizard casting their wizard's fire. It even LOOKS the same on both shows!





Aaah! Ok this is another genius moment that can be easily lost in the speed of the song: Look how HWG's interchanged characters from both shows and transplanted them into important scenes. First we have Kahlan's nightmare when she stabs and kills Richard, but instead of seeing Kahlan, HWG's put Morgana in, dropping her knife in shock from her own betrayal scene.

The second character transplant takes the Mary Collins / Lady Helen character who tries throws a dagger at Arthur in a last ditch attempt to kill him, and puts Kahlan in her place, also displaying some deadly dagger skills!

Seriously, at this point in the commentary my brain is breaking from the awesome amount of thought that's gone into the structure of this vid!!


And now, [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl's swan song!





As the song eerily crescendos we're shown Kahlan confessing Arthur in a final magical blast of comparison, as a sorceress arrives at Camelot one episode and casts a spell that makes Arthur fall in love with her, much in the same way that Kahlan's powers as a Confessor enable her to touch and man and make them fall eternally in love with her also. Even the imagery of the eyes — the way both shows convey that the victim has been affected by the magic — is used in an eerily similar way.


Once upon a time in a land far, far away... there was another land that was exactly the same as the first just on a different channel

For a vid that [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl explains as simply as,
“ As far as the vid goes...I dunno wtf is going on but it's practically Mortal Kombat up in there, lol. Some intense show-on-show action. ;) ”
there's a LOT more going on than you'd first think. I kinda feel she's saying something more like,
“ Look at how the same ideas are used over and over in the fantasy genre, and just try and tell me it's not fraught with clichés! Also, these clichés are goddam pretty, so watch these shows, kids! ”
And the proof is right there in the proverbial vidding pudding :D

All cleverness aside, this vid is fast and fun and vibrant and pretty to look at, and is totes one of my all time faves. And it made me watch Merlin, so well-done, HWG :P

1 I may have made that up, but it's my interpretation right? LOL. Don't ever come to me for history lessons :P

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