vidder. fabella /wistful_fever
warnings. i tend to ramble & also: there are 60+ pictures behind this cut...
& erh, this is late, as in very late. so sorry :/ i'm the worst deadline-keeper ever.
a vid!commentary by tearful-eye
okay, first i'd like to say: it has been ages since i've tried to analyze anything and i've never analyzed a vid/movie before, so i'll just try this my way & interpret away. but this comm is such an awesome idea i just HAD to sign up. i'm only glad this won't be graded... and erh, a little warning: i don't think i'm actually capable of writing in an orderly fashion (or so various teachers told me), so i hope what i say is understandable at least ;)
also: there are some notes on this vid (in the original post) in fabella's journal. but luckily (or not so luckily) for me, i almost never read vid notes. especially not before watching the vid - it's probably because i don't wanna spoil myself. i think i didn't even read the summary - because i just automatically download every vid fabella makes, it doesn't even matter what it's about, *g* so this is really just about what i see in this vid; and i won’t focus so much on the technical aspects, than on content & imagery.
before watching the vid
taking a closer look at this vid, i realized that there are a few things that are (to me) already set in stone by the fandom and pairing alone:
merlin is a magical fantasy fandom - it's about teenage boys and magic, it's about a legend. everyone sees something different in it, cause the arthurian legend is VAST and no one can say they know exactly which version is 'true'. for me, this show isn't so much about the legend though, as it is about the awesome adventures of four teenagers, who happen to be called after those legendary figures. and arthur and merlin happen to be a prince and a magician - but i don't really see them as THE arthur & merlin. cause they aren't them yet, really - that's why, even though this vid takes up a theme from the legend, i won’t focus on any other of its aspects in this commentary.
also, imo this pairing (= arthur/merlin) already implies certain things: arthur and merlin are as different as day and night. one is a dark haired farm-boy who is, in secret, a powerful wizard. the other is a prince, blond haired and blue eyed - rich, famous, brave. merlin isn't very educated (probably), comes from poor background and doesn't need to hide anything except the fact that he can do magic (and he only hides this because it’s forbidden under penalty of death). he has never had to learn to hide his feelings - he can be rude and honest, and doesn't really know how to lie to please anyone (even if he tries it sometimes). he doesn't even care that he gets punished for being honest/ rude - no one else cares about it either. arthur on the other hand has to hide a lot. nothing like merlin's magic, but he hides his feelings. he has to, he has to please - not some friends (he probably doesn't have), but as the king's son, as someone who should always know what to do, someone everyone else looks up to.
in the series, arthur and merlin are clearly fascinated by each other - which is understandable, not only if you want to slash two pretty boys, but also from a purely friendshippy, psychological point of view. they haven't ever met anyone like each other, the unknown fascinates, attracts. and even though opposites can make each other a whole (the 'two sides of one coin' thing the show keeps talking about) it's difficult to keep the relationship stable & balanced. or keep it at all...
whew. sorry about that, but i had to mention it. & now that this is out of the way... *dives into the vid*
when you first watch the vid, there are some things that become immediately apparent, even without having read the summary/vid notes: the title, the colours, the outside sources, the song.
first, the music choice. it's 'stay' by michelle featherstone. i have never heard of this artist before, and it's not really the type of music i tend to listen to a lot. maybe that's why i wasn't that fascinated by the vid when i watched it the first time - the music is often the thing that draws me into a vid. but after a second viewing, i realized that the song fits absolutely beautifully with the visuals we get from the vid.
it's a very romantic song and the words are simple (read the whole lyrics here), given a deeper meaning only by the images of the video. it's sweet and melancholic. the fact that it's sung by a woman gives the vid a sort of strange, outsider!pov feeling, even though the whole story is also clearly from arthur's perspective (he's got a female inner voice, *g*). i'm not sure what this means exactly - it could be that it's because somewhere, someone established that female voices = full of emotions; and sure, this song is very emotional. so maybe it's implying that arthur understands what merlin is feeling & the conflict between them (which i will come back to later on) and still wants him to 'stay' - as the lyrics say.
maybe the female voice could also be a reference to 'mother earth'. arthur isn't as connected to nature as merlin, but he still feels the pull and desperation and need that surround it. and it gives a deeper meaning to his understanding of merlin's magic.
the colours. they are bright & saturated and there are high contrasts. the vibrant greens, yellows, blues and reds are very powerful - red/blue/yellow are the three basic colours, they are a foundation, and are one part of the 'elemental' that the title says this vid is about. the high contrast could also be seen as some sort of a representation of the differences between merlin & arthur.
an other, the biggest part of 'elemental' is, of course, nature. the outside sources, that fabella uses here show that beautifully - the sun, the forest, rain, storm clouds, a sea of butterflies... a lot of beautiful images when you just look at it once, possessing a deeper meaning if you look twice.
and the other big part of being 'elemental' are arthur and especially merlin themselves. merlin is of nature, arthur of culture - one completes and contrasts the other in every way. two parts, making up a whole.
a closer look
'if I build a wall
a hundred feet tall'
00:06 - the vid starts with merlin & showing us how close he is to nature. through overlays and crossfades, merlin is fading into the sunset, the forest, there are raindrops in his eyes. he is green and yellow and bright.
00:26 - the sun rises & arthur is introduced with a deep red and yellow. he is lying on a bed, waking up. the lyrics start. the singer uses the pronoun i, making it clear to us that the vid is from arthur's point of view. he puts on his armor, and then rides towards camelot through a green field .
and here we can already see the first conflict: arthur lives inside man-made walls - the stone walls of camelot and the metal shield of the armor (and also himself). he is of culture, a fighter. merlin is of nature & even though arthur can see the beauty of the field he rides through, he can't become one with it. arthur building a wall could also be a symbol for his need to separate merlin from that nature - because it is something he can't possess, and he wants to have merlin with him.
'would that keep you in'
00:35 - arthur fights. he stands with merlin at will's deathbed and merlin doesn't do anything except look at him. if we want, we could say that in this moment they see the difference in each other. merlin understands why will's body has to die - arthur wants to fight, wants to keep him (and merlin as well, of course) with him.
00:39 - the crossfade of merlin's magic-golden eye into the shot of him diving into the water is exceptionally beautiful. it shows merlin's need to become one with nature, sink into the water & stay there. and arthur knows that, but like with the dying man before, he wants to keep merlin in 'his' world, keep him locked away.
'if i shackle your feet
so you couldn't leave'
00:43 - there are different ways arthur can try to keep merlin with him ('shackle him') though. he gets to know him, sits with him and becomes his friend; and he wants to know if his kindness, friendship (and eventual love) is enough to keep merlin with him. arthur could build walls of stone and keep merlin by force, but he would like it to be merlin's own choice to stay with him.(maybe because in the end arthur doesn’t really have the strength to deny merlin anything - even if he wants to leave.)
00:47 - the vid shows again, that merlin is becoming one with nature. the overlay of his face at the window & the bees (if they are bees, or maybe butterflies?) and then the hard cut to his face, while he works on arthur's armor show beautifully how merlin's two lives grow slowly closer together, but stay impossibly different.
and of course the manipulation that shows that the fairy's reflection in the water is merlin's face... that single moment clearly expresses the whole problem & theme of the vid. merlin is that fairy. but he is also a servant in the castle - and those two existences collide; he has to chose. and it's obvious that merlin can't completely resist the pull of nature, his nature.
the vid also implies that arthur already knows about merlin's magic at this point. the story of the vid starts somewhere in the middle of arthur & merlin's story together. it's more of a flashback, looking at what they had. not how it began, but how it may have ended.
'would you try and run'
00:51 - merlin watches arthur stand with gwen & morgana from a distance. arthur doesn't directly ask him to join them, but it's clear what he wants - and merlin knows this. he looks evasive & undecided. maybe because he knows he can't ever be at peace in arthur‘s world, even if he wanted to stay with him.
00:58 - there are several shots of arthur doing princely things, being surrounded by people and family. he looks at the fields, wins a tournament, walks through a crowd as if looking for someone... and then a shot of him walking through a forest. the people around him have vanished - he sees into another world, merlin's world.
there are gateways that cross the bridge between culture and nature everywhere - merlin stands at the window and sees what is outside, and with one thought/beat of the music he is outside in that forest, fading into the trees. he is the forest that surrounds arthur, but arthur can't see him anymore. arthur just sees a forest. he only sees merlin looking out the window. he knows what's out there, but can't go - the shot of his face, overlaid with the guards at the door symbolizes that. he can't leave these walls he built. but he can't let go of merlin either.
'if i promise not to fight
at least not tonight,
would you stay the night'
01:16 - at this point the vid is very literal. we see that merlin & arthur don't always see eye to eye even if it's not about their fundamental differences (nature/culture). and we're also shown the good times they had - the way they stand by each other, and throw flirty looks at each other (and play footsie).
00:26 - another thing that is relatively clear from the beginning of this vid, is that this arthur is in love with merlin (at least to me it is, maybe because i ship them like mad), but it could also just be a very deep friendship. & here the vid gets a bit more obvious for the first time that it's actually something more: it shows us that merlin and arthur have spent many (very different) nights together, and arthur asks merlin to stay on, keep sharing what they have. keep sharing his nights.
'if i wore that little dress
that you like the best'
01:31 - this is a moment i had a bit of trouble understanding at first, maybe because it follows directly after a moment in which the vid is very literal. cause here it isn't... i understand the lyrics in this way, that arthur doesn't put on a dress (although that would be fun too), but tries to do something, anything to please merlin. the ‘dress’ is a symbol for a positive sign/moment, something they share.
we see how the two of them met: the moment before they shake hands. we see arthur finding the plant to cure merlin.
there is also a shot of mordred - whom arthur helped escape because a friend asked him to; and merlin cared about mordred as well. then, as a parallel for the shot of the unconscious mordred, there is a sequence in which arthur is in trouble, held by his father, surrounded by his knights.
it could be that these shots show the moments in which merlin & arthur were very close, and in agreement - they helped each other, held each other & did what the other wanted. it could be that they grew close because of one such moment, where they forgot their differences.
'would you pass my test'
00:41 - the vid goes back to their problems again...
merlin rides out, away from the castle & comes to a wide open valley, the maze. he sees nature not through a window this time - but much closer, much more irresistible. 'the test' for merlin could be that he has to decide now. he has always been torn between two worlds & now he sees what nature really has to offer. a shot of his worried face fading into night/landscape shows us again how well he fits in there - and how difficult it is for him to decide between his love (arthur) and himself (nature).
... actually, i'm not so sure about this moment. or if this is really what's meant by 'the test', but anyway... *shrugs*
'would you stay
would you stay with me'
01:49 - here merlin's ties to nature become even stronger; maybe because he finally decided what he's gonna do.
he and arthur get separated in the maze (= 'the test'), by walls which are part natural (because they're hedges), but grown by man. man was trying to control nature, make the hedges grow where he wanted them to, so they can keep in and confuse. but as we get shown later on, merlin can walk through these walls as if they weren't there & arthur is the one who gets trapped.
and we see the world though merlin's golden eyes for a moment as well - everything grows dim, except his magic = nature.
01:55 - arthur is directly asking merlin to stay now, but it sounds wistful, like he knows merlin can't really obey him anymore. he stands in front of an empty throne - the place where he wants merlin to be. he wants merlin to stand still, keep him in the form he is in at that moment. he doesn't want him to change, morph into something new.
but the shots of merlin - his face fading into a stormy sky, shooting lightning from his fingertips - show us that he can't be exactly what arthur wants him to be. he can try, he can slow down (like the wind in those leaves), but he can't not change.
hunith understands that about her son, she hugs him, crying - but lets him go. she wants what's best for merlin.
'if i was sincere
and whispered my fears'
02:04 - arthur tells merlin how much he needs him, how afraid he is that merlin will change & grow distant from him: he lies wounded on a bed - helpless, needing merlin's presence. then we see him walking through the maze again, coming to something that appears to be an exit, where he walks out to the sea. and it's almost like a feverish dream, a manifestation of his fears. the sea, untameable nature, is merlin.
'would you still be here'
02:15 - we see arthur rubbing the sleep (& disbelief) from his eyes. in the background merlin is riding away & we see a rapidly changing sky. the clouds that reform so quickly, the setting sun, all those transfiguring things show us how natural change is. and that it's not possible for normal human beings, like arthur.
this moment also makes us realize that something has happened we hadn‘t been aware of until now: arthur talks as if merlin already left him. it could be that merlin has really left and that arthur is alone, or that it is a sort of continuation of his fever dream, in which he lives out his fears.
'would you stay
would you stay with me'
02:22 - once more, we're shown the conflict. merlin is walking through the maze, slowly losing himself in the green of growing things. arthur is walking through the same maze, desperately looking for him - and then there is a beautiful cut from him running through the maze to him running through camelot's corridors. it shows that without merlin he's now just as lost in 'his' world as he is outside.
and there is another flashback to the moment they met & moments they shared. perhaps only merlin coming to camelot has made arthur realize that there is also something else, than what he was already used to.
'would you stay'
02:37 - merlin finds his own exit from the maze. it's not an obvious one, he just walks right into the hedges - over it, through it. becomes one with it... and arthur is still there as well, trying to follow him.
the lyrics contrast the images here. merlin is on the verge of losing himself in nature & arthur still calls out to him.
'would you stay with me
02:42 - once again, we have a flashback to some happier times.
02:48 - & this is such a beautiful moment in the vid!
arthur is standing at the window where merlin was standing before - he looks outside. remembering their happiness. then there is a crossfade to his empty hand - and together with the lyrics, it feels as though arthur holds out his hand, waiting until merlin takes it and comes back to him. only it stays empty, and the vid goes back to arthur staring out the window into the night. either merlin has left or he's otherwise unable to reach out to arthur.
'if i build a wall
a hundred feet tall'
02:56 - there are short clips of butterflies throughout the whole vid, but here the picture is clear for the first time. a sea of butterflies, and then the scene changes and we see arthur watching merlin leave his chambers, he looks worried.
the butterfly is a symbol of change, the human soul and often associated with love. in merlin's case these two things (change & love) stand opposite each other. it's in his magical nature to change, yet his love to arthur makes him stand still. in this sequence it seems like arthur finally realizes he has gone too far with wanting to keep merlin with him, inside his walls. even though he has recognized merlin's nature before, he hadn’t really understood that he had to let him go. his worried face & merlin leaving his side may show that the prince recognizes that it's too late to let merlin be all that he could have been.
03:04 - someone stands in the forest. it's unclear whether it's arthur or merlin; then the camera moves through the trees, and it feels as if the viewer flies through it, hovering above the ground. bodiless. there is no one there anymore.
'would that keep you in'
03:08 - this is the moment the whole vid is building up to... merlin changing into an oak tree.
the oak tree, like the butterfly, is symbol that has a lot of history & tradition - as far as i know it often stands for strength and fidelity and life. its root grow deep and strong, and even though it still grows, it doesn't change anymore. the oak tree is also a symbol for a portal - it stands on the edge between the world of men & that of the gods/spirits. it connects, but doesn't belong to either one.
there is an overlay of merlin running through the forest, over the oak tree - and it's unclear whether merlin chose to stay for love, or chose to go & follow his instincts, his self preservation. all that we can clearly see is that he isn't with arthur anymore, but neither has he grown one with nature/ into something that is able to change freely. he is a tree, standing alone on the top of a hill. though wise and strong, he's doesn't belong anywhere anymore. arthur and merlin are both alone in the end.
so... once again: this vid basically shows how arthur & merlin, two people who are almost exact opposites, are attracted to each other, and the problem that comes from this relationship. merlin, the boy from the forest & arthur, the prince from the high castle are so completely different; they complete each other, but they can never have something lasting either. arthur wants merlin to stay with him forever, but merlin is torn apart by his instincts and his love to arthur. he can’t decide between the pull of nature, of magic and arthur’s pleas to stay with him.
and arthur finds out too late that merlin can't completely deny his own self, even if he would like to. arthur can't cage him, but neither can he follow him.
okay, and because i can't believe anyone actually read all that babbling of mine :P : i LOVE this vid! so, so much. it's pretty & tragic & PRETTY! and go watch it now if you haven‘t already, because it will melt your heart.
also: if you find spelling errors/whatever, and i’m sure there are a lot, feel free to point them out in a comment :)
(and now i can finally go & read all those other commentaries... YAY)