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Title: Arbiter
Creator: Paul Van Duesen
Date: pre-1993 or earlier
Format: VHS
Music: "Arbiter" from the musical Chess
Fandom: Prisoner
Footage: Prisoner
URL: remastered version online

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Arbiter is a VCR era fan vid edited by Paul Van Duesen set to the British television show The Prisoner.


"In the continuing saga revolving about the question of whether fen should use songs previously used by other fen, I opted for the permission theory and asked Mary Van Duesen if she would mind if Tashery and I used The Arbiter, which she had previous used interestingly for both Blake's 7 & Sherlock Holmes. She said it was fine, that she enjoyed seeing different versions of the same song. We wanted to use the song for The Sandbaggers, as we were having difficulty finding any song we thought would work for that show. Mary mentioned that her husband, Paul, had just done a version for The Prisoner, and that she would include with some other tapes she was sending me. Well, after seeing Paul's flashy new Arbiter, we both lost interest in using the song for The Sandbaggers, which is visually a fairly dull show, although a rich one emotionally (we've yet to find our Baggie song). Although I enjoy both of Mary's versions of The Arbiter, I think this is the ultimate one. There is a felicitous meeting of song and image, with assorted #2's and, finally, the prisoner taking their places as the arbiter of the title. Since I have not seen the show in its entirety for ten years, I can judge it only by how the images fit the lyrics, rather than on their specific emotional context I would have been charmed by the wonderfully silly trampoline "gambit" alone, but the vid makes excellent use of the crazy "champion" cricket match, Napoleonic political ploys, and the human chess game. It has a perfect finish in the mock trial, making good use of the normally difficult "ground square one... 64" lyrics. The vid captures sense of the bizarre that pervades the show, and the inherent paranoia of the prisoner's world As well as choosing a marvelous assortment of images, Paul also cuts very well to the music and uses the internal rhythms of the song to advantage in several shots."[1]


  1. ^ Gayle F's review in Rainbow Noise #2 (1993).