|Date:||November 29, 2006|
|Music:||"Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm of The War Drums" by A Perfect Circle|
|Footage:||original source (note: spoilers up to season 3's The Choice plus season 4's John Quixote)|
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Overall impression: One thing everyone will agree on: Trippy. Then again, that pretty much sums up Stark period, so it's appropriate. Well timed, great use of effects and colors, and frankly, the first time I've really cared about Stark ever so Kaz has managed a minor miracle there.
Titles: Kaz's familiar "Unrealized Realities" logo opens the vid through the starting drums. We transition to clips before the lyrics start. The actual vid titles occur at the end in rather plain text. I do like how the backdrop for the titles is the freaky anime-like castle and trees with chiana and john visible through the forest.
Music choice: The song's desperation, as well as repetitive nature, well suit Ava-stark. He's desperate to unlock the world he wants, but no one knows what he's on about because only he understands it. Ava-stark understands Stark and John better than they understand themselves (from his perspective) and everyone is dancing to his rhythm. The repetition of "Blind sheep" does ring especially true here given that John so often jumps into situations blindly -- In Lovers, Guns, and Money, he's willing to trust a man he feels is truly not with it in order to confront Scorpius -- to almost disastrous results. Likewise, Zhaan jumps blindly into giving her life for Aeryn for John's benefit -- all of these things lend to Ava-Stark's perception that Moya's passengers are simply sheep within his game and that he's the only one able to see the larger pattern and guide everyone to salvation -- or damnation, depending on what you believe Ava-Stark's true intentions were.
Narration, Tone and Movement: It takes several viewings to figure out the exact narration, but it becomes readily apparent that we are viewing Stark and John's experiences through Ava-Stark's skewed perceptions. Insanity from both Stark, Ava-stark and John leak through and lend to the trippyness of the vid. This vid also has some of the best timed movements within clips to the beat of the music as well as to specific actions -- the scene of Stark screaming at 2:10 while screams sound in the music is but one of the examples. Nothing about the vid ever slows down and lets you collect your thoughts -- much like the entire episode of John Quixote.
Cuts, Transitions, Effects & Colouring/Coloring: Many of the cuts are straight from one clip to another and many times timed specifically to the drum beats whenever the lyrics are not sounding. I didn't find any of the transitions to be especially distracting and the fluid nature lent to the trippy feel. As usual for Kaz, it becomes difficult to pinpoint exactly when coloring/blurring is her effect or that of the episodes (especially when dealing with John Quixote) -- which is a compliment btw. The specific scenes in which several clips are overlayed during their transitions (with Stark at the center generally) are very powerful at pulling focus back to whose viewpoint we're seeing this reality from. The screen graying on Ava-Stark at 1:39 is the big tip off after repeating viewings that Ava-Stark is our narrator in this vid.
Specific vid & music notes:
0:7-0:11 -- immediately Kaz sets the pace of the video, timing Stark's lunge at the camera to the drum beats and then his "your side-my side" scene as well. A very strong note to start on and it definitely sets the tone of the vid. (and as a side, how cool is it that even John's post aurora chair gasping goes to the drum beat???)
0:16 -- ever so brief glimpse of Zhaan. Almost too short, but since we're on the drum beat, I can't complain. This is where we depart from the drums for some slower narrative clips though. Well, at least every beat -- most of the clips still manage to stay synced to a beat of some sort (can I just say -- there's no way I would ever have the patience to do this for five minutes!!!)
0:34 -- Zhaan kissing Stark's mask when she thinks he's dead. Just another symptom that even she is a sleeping sheep since she didn't realize that Stark is bigger than death.
0:40 -- Stark's "death" cut to a shot of beaten Stark at the gammak base (i beliee) and then to Zhaan holding his mask again. No matter what happens, Stark himself loses -> just another sheep helpless against the universe.
0:43 -- Stark's scream timed to the music scream and continuing for several seconds
0:54 -- There's absolutely no scene in the vid more powerful to me than that of Stark on the floor here.
1:14 -- The lyrics finally start. Another key hint to the narrator is the appearance of Ava-stark as the words start. We also enter John Quixote clip land.
1:29-1:34 -- Safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils Pain starts on JQ-Zhaan looking defeated (or Ava-Zhaan??), then we cut to John's hand holding the magic question ball because we all know exactly how much truth those got him, and then cutting to JQ-John dressed up in armor one the words "poison devils". Remember, John is not the hero in this vid, and this clip scene pairing with the music emphasizes it.
1;35 -- See, they don't give a fuck about you showing Zhaan, post-Aeryn resurrection, covering her head while Stark watches from the darkness and fade to grayed Ava-stark on the words "like I do". Key - the image is pulsating in time to the drum beats.
1:57-2:22-- Refrain: Count the bodies like sheep to the background of John and Ava-Starks LSD tainted tilt at windmills. Intercut with various images of Zhaan, Zhaan and Stark, Zhaan and John, and Stark -- keep track of who your sheep are.
2:35-2:50 -- entering into heavy drum territory, we go back to clip changes on both the up and down beat at a rapid pace. Hypnotizing, no? This is broken by another Stark scream
3:00 -- Go back to sleep - I love this pairing with John running away, especially since we see him do it not all that often.
3:20-3:33 -- The eery refrain and demand of Go to sleep echoes in the background as we watch Stark take away John's pain from the aurora chair (unless I'm wrong and this is Talyn John). Well done.
4:05 -- The overlay of John yelling with stark's somber face in the background is truly powerful and a wonderful effect.
4:42-4:45 -- They're one in the same, I must isolate you… Isolate and save you from yourself This sequence of the last verse is absolutely beautiful and hints that perhaps Ava-Stark's purpose wasn't malicious at all. He's merely trying to save John from himself. Or perhaps, trying to keep John from inflicting more damage upon his comrades (after all, Stark did have a thing for Aeryn as well as Zhaan). The fade to black after John starts falling works very well also, paired with the slowing and calming of the music it lets the viewer refocus after all the intensity.
4:45-end - we recap the important things briefly: Zhaan and Stark and John together, Ava-Stark watching the sheep Chiana and John trying to figure out their predicament, Ava-Zhaan, John falling, John reaching out to Stark, Stark watching Zhaan from the shadows, Ava-Stark land, and of course, Zhaan and Stark. It underscores the entire narrative without slamming the viewer over the head (at least, till I pointed it out).Final notes: This vid provides an excellent commentary on the relationships of Zhaan, Stark, and John from the outside. Moreover, it powerfully builds a somewhat secondary character of Ava-Stark into a person of his (its?) own right. It's hard to pick out any flaws, mostly because it's apparent that each clip has been carefully selected and is there for its own purpose. I think it speaks highly of Kazbaby's talent that she grabs the viewer so strongly and manages to keep the vid flowing and interesting and compelling for five minutes.