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Title: What We Had
Vidder: [profile] cherryice
Fandom: Doctor Who/Torchwood
Link: http://cherryice.livejournal.com/213248.html
Commentary By: [personal profile] hollywoodgrrl
Warnings: Heavy on the Images and the Words, heavier yet on my own Pretentiousness. (Hell, I can't help it! This vid touches me like a lover.)



"My job as an editor is to gently prod the attention of the audience to look at various parts of the frame…And I do that by manipulating, by how and where I cut and what succession of images I work with." – Walter Murch

The editor is a storyteller just as much as a writer or a director. As the saying goes, most films are written in the editing room and that's because the editor is a manipulator, because the editor has the power to make the audience think whatever it is that needs to be thought just by placing two clips together on a timeline. So too does a vidder hold this power. Though the scale is quite smaller, the theory is much the same. In a span of a song a vidder equally manipulates the audience, retelling a story, bringing forth the subtext, creating something new. And that's exactly why I chose to do a commentary on What We Had by [profile] cherryice. Because it's one of the smartest vids around and the more I watch it, the more I'm proud to call myself a vidder. (OMG GUYS, VIDDING IS ♥!)



Cherry created and submitted this vid for the Vividcon 2008 "Fuck You" Challenge. And though it certainly does present Martha, Mickey, and Jack in a position of saying "fuck you" to the Doctor and subsequently leaving, I actually prefer view this vid as something even simpler than that: Without any maliciousness or secret agendas, this is a straight up portrayal of three Whoneverse characters who each happened to draw the short straw.

Since What We Had is such a rich and meaty vid, I think it serves as the perfect example of editing within the parameters of Sergei Eisenstein's Intellectual Montage theory. This is the theory of parallels and metaphors. It is an approach to editing that relies upon the audience's ability to grasp a new meaning from two seemingly unrelated shots being juxtaposed. Though all vids technically should play with Intellectual Montage and use the footage to its utmost, (at least I think they should)
What We Had
does it particularly well. In this commentary I hope to point out all the editing tricks Cherry used to relay her theme. There might even be some flailing. But ultimate my goal is to convince some new sheep of this vid's genius. Because THAT it is!

So here we have the introduction of our characters and their three (unrequited love) stories, intertwined.



Notice how Cherry uses ghosting here (and look back to even the title sequence). All three of our heroes are introduced at moments when they're already tearing. Though they each must go on their individual missions, a part of them wants to remain. (Talk about using effects purposefully!)


♪it's cold/ a plain diamond


An introduction of the baddies in their various wide shot glory. Toclafane for Martha, Cybermen for Mickey, and Daleks for Jack. Coming right after the character introductions this was the perfect way of reminding the audience of what it was that effected each of our heroes so fundamentally in their external struggles. (Internally it was the same man.)

Now it's time to tell their individual stories. First up, Jack.

♪ nobody's here, just empty space


Jack loves the Doctor, the Doctor loves Rose. Cherry summarized this vid with these exact lyrics → nobody's here, just empty space.



Jack goes down fighting, Jack is brought back. Jack can no longer die, Jack is left behind waiting waiting waiting for the Doctor, forever living, hoping the Doctor will cure him one day. And when that day comes and they finally meet, the Doctor has no cure. He doesn't even want to look at Jack. The Doctor is disgusted by the mere presence of him.

So Jack continues to die. And check out THIS hot shit juxtaposition:

♪it's all moving, breathing

The Doctor forgets Jack and runs off with Rose. As they frolic on New Earth, back on Earth proper, Jack is shot. For me this sequence not only represents a clever rendition of Torchwood vs. Doctor Who (the lights and darks of color as well as theme, the physical horror of Jack's immortality) but it also glimpses a bit of Jack's feelings. That being left behind and knowing the man he loves is off loving Rose somewhere else, well it feels like a bullet to the head.

And with that we transition oh so smoothly into Martha's story.



Martha loves the Doctor, the Doctor loves Rose. (But SAD! Rose is gone.) In a manner of speaking, Martha's sole purpose in Series 3 was to simply play the role of Ten's rebound girl. And the worse he treated her, the more we're drawn to her. Because as an audience, it's tough to be sitting on the sidelines seeing it all go down. (ILU, MARTHA JONES!) The whole time you just wanna throttle Ten and scream, "Don't you realize what you have?!" But the point is exactly that! He doesn't realize until it's too late and Martha's gone.

♪ stuck to the ceiling, don't mean a thing

And here's another example of Cherry's juxtaposition skillz. Pay extra attention to the shots of the hands: There's Martha reciting the bones of the hand (representing her smarts as a medical student), the Doctor grabbing Rose's hand, Martha performing CPR on the Doctor, and finally Martha scrubbing floors in 1913. Though Martha is a real great catch, the Doctor still prefers to hold Rose's hand. And Martha spirals downwards. Without the Doctor she's a brilliant medical student, quick on her feet, saving lives. But with the Doctor...she's his maid.

Now let's jump in and see what's up with Mickey.

♪and what we had is already gone


Mickey loves Rose, Rose loves the Doctor. Rose goes gallivanting off with the Doctor and oops she's gone for a year. And oops Mickey is questioned by the police for her disappearance! Though Rose was literally missing, in the context of this vid, and especially in the context of Mickey's story, Rose being missing is a representation of their entire broken relationship. Because once the Doctor is in the picture, Mickey is shoved aside. And when Rose returns, there's no hope in rekindling what they had.

♪it's all/ a plain diamond

Please take a moment and look at this glorious section! It was perhaps the first thing that made me sit up and literally whip out an, "OH SNAP!" Because it's such a phenomenal parallel. Not only is there a beautiful visual similarity between the shots of Nine with Rose and that of Jack, but there is also thematic relevance. Giving life, dying...On the one hand it's Nine removing the vortex energy from Rose, saving her life and destroying his. On the other it's Jack having his own life force sucked out, saving humanity and hoping that it will be his final end. The inclusion of Martha shifts the meaning further, focusing it back onto the theme of the vid: The Doctor saves Rose, while Jack and Martha literally give him their last breaths.

♪nobody's here, just empty space


Notice the eyelines. Jack and Martha are on one page while the Doctor is on another. Yet when push comes to shove, it's Jack and Martha who save him. They're constantly looking out for him even if they're just "empty space."



Similarly here it's Jack and Martha who are shown to be active. And what does the Doctor do? He remains passive in the background, letting them do all the dirty work. (Look at that douchey little smirk! Pfft. ;))

And now, A TWIST! Cherry does something quite incredible. As the vid nears the middle mark, she shifts the Doctor's focus from one epic love to another. From Rose...to the Master!

♪they're all our eyes are saucered to see
as if hands might float right down from above
and change this place


The editing win in this section brings me unprecedented amounts of JOY. Not only does it cut seamlessly together, (notice how terrified Harriet Jones looks amidst the "Saxon Is Your Man" propaganda, and how smoothly the press shots of the two politicians fit, almost as if they're running against each other for office) but Cherry molds the story so that it literally looks like the Doctor initiated the deposal of Harriet Jones just to get
his boyfriend
the Master a job!

♪and what we had


Here we have nice parallel shots of Martha and Mickey getting ready to go do what needs to be done. Yay trucks!

♪don't mean a thing


THIS!!!! I WILL LET YOU PROCESS IT FOR A MOMENT!

Ready? Though these two shots aren't concurrent in the sequence, I felt the need to pick them out and plaster them side by side because HELLO! They're the active shots in this sequence, falling on the same musical cues, therefore, the audience is meant to draw a connection. Since Jack IS Torchwood, the concept of the Doctor destroying the glass can be interpreted as the equivalent of the Master killing Jack. Coupled with the lyrics, the metaphor presented is that for two Time Lords, Jack and everything he stands for can be discarded with just a flick of the Sonic/Laser Screwdriver.

♪and what we had is already gone


I love this section because Cherry cuts the shots of Martha's year of wondering with that of Jack in chains. In this context it's like he's reacting to her suffering, pulling at his chains, but he can't share the burden and we feel his helplessness.

♪i sit outside with the rain now
and time rolls slow


All right, hold it! I need a second to unleash some editing flails. First let's talk about what these two sections generally represent. They are two moments where Jack and Martha feel left out because the Doctor has chosen someone else over them.

But now, please take a moment to study the gif on the left. What you have is an example of the Kuleshov Effect. The shot of Martha paired with that of the Doctor and the Master creates a new meaning. In the context of the show, what Martha looked upon with such disgust was the Master pointing a Laser Screwdriver at her. But in the context of the vid, what she's reacting to is the Doctor hugging the Master, choosing the Master over her! The way she flinches reminds me of the previously discussed section where Jack feels shot in the head knowing that the Doctor is off somewhere having a good time with Rose.


Here are some more examples of Kuleshov editing. In this vid Cherry carved herself a universe where a group of characters who normally don't share scenes together were suddenly coexisting, so she had to sell this to the audience. An easy way of doing that is by matching the eyelines of the characters in their respective shots, literally forcing them to interact with one another which in turn helps the audience believe that they're spatially connected. The most successful edits happen when not only the eyelines are kept in mind but also the camera angle, blocking, etc. So for instance in the first gif the shots of Martha and Mickey are both mediums and the characters are blocked to mirror each other. Hence we believe that they're looking at one another. In the second gif it's night time and Cherry has Martha enter frame in a wide shot, walk forward in a medium, and to match that she cuts to a shot of mickey turning to look back at her (also at night, and also in a medium). Finally the third gif is the Crème de la Crème. Notice how not only the eyelines and blocking match, but the movement from character to character, both body movement and camera movement, helps solidify the fact that yes, Martha, Jack, and Mickey are indeed all together, commiserating with one another right here, right now.

♪but they may never shut off

This is another section that I particularly adore. First of all, it's one of the most BEAUTIFUL dissolves, right?! Second, it juxtaposes Mickey with the Toclafane, an enemy that's, technically speaking, not his. But with this choice Cherry reaffirms once again that everyone's hanging out in the same universe. And third, THEMES!!!!1 The Doctor and Rose have opened the Void. (A metaphoric void between Rose and Mickey? Huh? HUH?! ;)) Look at them smiling at each other. D'aaaw. But what happens? The Void sucks out all the baddies, (notice how the Toclafane shoot out in the same direction as the Daleks do in the actual shot from "Doomsday" so that their momentum matches the direction of the wind in Ten and Rose's hair) and Mickey is swallowed by the sea of Toclafane. Now because Cherry cut it so that Mickey witnesses the interaction between Ten and Rose, perhaps we're meant to think that he'd rather be facing the Toclafane than them. (His facial expression, combined with the lyrics, is just MUAH! *kisses fingertips* Oh Mickey.)


Finally we get to the core of it all: the Master and Rose. In one glorious editing swoop the Doctor loses them both. And so, brimming with loneliness he weeps and mourns their loss, shuffling about, feeling sorry for himself. "O, woe is me,/ To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!"



Except he's NOT alone. And on the other side of the Void, Rose isn't alone either. (They never were.) As we reach the climax of the song, Cherry forces us to see just what the Doctor doesn't: Jack, Martha, and Mickey, right there in the background. And that, my friends, is their story.


So in the final moments of the vid it's time for our heroes tell the Doctor something that he could reeeeeally benefit from hearing once in a while: "Fuck you." And Jack and Martha choose to leave. But notice how Cherry weaves the ghosting back into the vid, signifying once again that even though they've been to hell and back, even though they know the Doctor doesn't treat them nearly as well as they deserve, even though the healthiest thing to do is to leave...a part of them still can't help wanting to stay.

And there you have it! As this commentary turned EPICALLY TL;DR I congratulate anyone who persevered. Now I can finally reveal the secret that this is the edited version! o_0 YES, I COULD SAY MOAR ABOUT THIS VID! AKJBSD;KFB;KSDJBFKJDBF But I won't. Instead I encourage everyone to go on and watch it yourselves. Watch, rewatch, and bask in the vidding glory!

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