Dante's Prayer

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Vid
Title: Dante's Prayer
Creator: Killa
Date: 2001 (remastered 2010)
Format: digital vid, Best Destiny Songtape #6
Length: 4:30 minutes
Music: "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennitt
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek
Footage: the first three Star Trek films (mostly Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), a few clips from the original series
URL: watch on Vimeo (password protected)

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A classic Kirk/Spock vid to the song "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennitt.

The vid is often used as an example of where breaking the long standing vidding taboo against song reuse created an even better second songvid. Killa's version was shown at the 2001 Escapade vid show. Two years earlier, at the same Escapade vid show two other vidders, Morgan Dawn and Justine Bennett had used the song for their Titanic video.

Morgan Dawn explains:
"Throughout the 1990s, even as more and more fans gained access to VCR vidding equipment, the media fan vidder community remained close-knit. Vids were showcased at small conventions and it was expected that if you were a new vidder, you would have attended the conventions - or at least be familiar with the vids that had been shown. Song reuse was where a vidder would watch a vid done to one fandom, and then reuse the same song for another fandom. Since song choice was considered to be an essential part of the overall creative process, reusing a song was like lifting passages from someone else's book - at best, it showed, in some fan's minds, a lack of imagination; at worse it was "stealing" another fan's creativity. This was particularly true when the song was not a popular hit (as Loreena McKennitt's music was not at the time). What Killa did with Dante's Prayer was to stifle the song reuse debate by creating a vid that made far more effective use of the song in terms of both setting, theme and editing. It certainly helped that her version was edited digitally and could use dissolves and image layers to compliment Loreena McKennitt's ethereal music, whereas our Titanic video was limited by the VCR analog technology. But technology aside, when both Justine and I watched Killa's vid in the dark for the first time, we were blown away. It took Killa years to feel comfortable admitting that she had seen our vid and was inspired by our song choice.< But by the mid 2000s, as thousands of digital vidders began creating vids and posting them online, it became impossible to "claim" a song, no matter how rare and unusual. I am forever grateful that Killa decided to make her version because it remains one of my favorite vids - digital or analog."[1]

In fact, the decision to "reuse" the song may not have been a conscious choice. On occasion, vidders would hear the music in a vid and be inspired to purchase the album. Then, after multiple rounds of listening, end up selecting the same song remembering only that they liked it, but not where they heard it. But to the vidders attending Escapade that year, Killa's vid broke down internal and external barriers to reusing music.[2]

The vid has inspired other fans to become vidders.[3]

Reactions and Reviews

Killa - Dante's Prayer (Lorena McKennitt) - Star Trek:TOS. This was a showstopper. Not literally, but the audience (and, presumably, the vid-show runners) loved it so much that it was re-run at the end of the Friday night show. It's a brilliantly put together K/S vid: hauntingly beautiful music, a visual style that matches it exactly (there isn't a single sharp-edged cut in the vid; they're *all* fades), and the pacing is brilliant. The end, in which the music trails away, and the singer's voice trails away, and the figures in the image stop moving, and everything just holds in a moment of trembling desperation. ... I saw it three times in three days, and even on the third viewing I couldn't breathe at that moment. Brilliant use of the effects that computer vidding allows: the days of cheesy dancing frames because-we-can seem to be gone, and Killa used overlays and fades that allowed her to create a mood and suggest memories. (I meant to ask her how/why she chose the specific images she did to overlay on the ending. Killa, are you here? I'm still curious.) [4]
Is there anyone who hasn’t seen this amazing vid? Perhaps there are newbies to our fandom reading this, and to them I say beg, borrow, or buy this tape or DVD. You cannot really call yourself a K/Ser if this vid isn’t in your collection. Whenever I’ve been in a roomful of people and the vid is shown, all talk ceases, and at its end there is invariably a communal sigh and a tear or two. And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve seen the vid for the first or the fifty-first time, the reaction is the same.

It’s technically perfect and of professional quality. Given today’s equipment and the dedication of this artist one would expect that, but also there is such an incredible “bonding” of words to images that you would swear the song was written for just the purpose of telling the story of Spock’s death and resurrection. For example, the ocean of the song becomes the ocean of space and of course, that is a so accurate depiction of the vastness of the universe.

And this time, instead of seeing Spock ascending the steps after the fal-tor-pan, pausing, being drawn to Kirk, we get to actually see the scenes he is remembering. Kirk’s fervent prayer, “Remember me....” is answered. [5]
"The only other K/S vids that affected me sooooo strongly [was] .... Dante's Prayer.... Dante's Prayer is a perfect follow-up to the death in ST:TWOK & In This Room, with the resurrection in ST:TSFS. Tears, again....but this time tears of utter joy and such beautiful reunion when Jim saves his T'hy'la. The end when Spock says "Jim" to those words of the song: "When the dark night seems endless, please remember me." Chills. Absolute chills. Even as I recall it all and type this I have chills. It is gorgeous beyond all description!"[6]
"That is one of the best vids ever! I love the pacing and the narrative structure of it, and the way you superimpose the memories at the end. It gets me every time."[7]
"I was just thinking earlier today that I Don't Get fanvids, and then I download this, and. I think I get it now. I really, really do." [8]
"oh...there's never been another vid like this one. Granted, there's never been quite another story like Kirk's and Spock's, but...as I've said before and no doubt will say sometime again, it took your brilliant creative talent to put this together, so this is all *you*. I'm so glad you picked up those Star Trek books all those years ago to read...I don't want to imagine ST fandom w/o your unique and lovely influence. I despaired that DP wasn't online to share with all the newbies...now I can rec it all I want! *big hugs*"[9]
"Holy shit. I thought that when you said that it made you cry it was just because you're one of those people who tend to do so. But ho-l-y shit. I never even cry when Spock dies and the backs of my eyes started to tickle from watching this. The choice of song, the way the clips are put together, the TOS clips superimposed over those last few seconds, EVERYTHING--- is beautifully done and speaks volumes to the strength of their love. It can transcend time, death, birth, anything. They are inseperable, and I've never seen any other video that has illustrated it so well. It's making me want to write fic."[10]
"Yeah, never put sixty women in a single room together and have them watch [Dante's Prayer] after seeing several other sad ones because holy crap, it was reminiscent to watching My Sister's Keeper in the movie theatre. You could hear people sobbing like mad. It was amusing and I do understand why they were so sad because heck, that's a well done freaking fanvid. I'll tell you that."[11]
"I heard rumour of this vid years ago but had never seen it, but I watched it this morning before work and have been a complete wreck all day, to the point of calling it a day going home at lunchtime. How is it that this is even more emotional than the actual source films?"[12]
And last night, for various reasons (Spock Spock Spock Spock Spock), I watched Killa's incredible vid Dante's Prayer. Now, let me share with you my progression with that vid:

The first time I watched it, Best Beloved had to narrate the whole thing, including telling me who Spock and Kirk were, precisely. (I had sort of vaguely thought, up to that point, that Leonard Nimoy pretty much played, like, Elrond in Space.) And there's a lot of terrain covered in that vid, including people at different ages, and worse (for me), different outfits. I think it took her about fifteen minutes to give me the shortest possible summary. (Very short version that leaves a lot out: Spock dies tragically. His friends are sad. Kirk looks like someone pithed him. Later, chronologically speaking, they go and get him back.)

I remember being surprised that she teared up at Spock's death scene, largely because if someone in this relationship is going to cry, it's going to be me. (I think that people have a default reaction to emotional excess. Mine is tears.) I cry at the funerals of people I don't know. I cry at death scenes in movies. I cried so hard at Theoden's scene outside his son's grave that Best Beloved asked me if the son was a major character in the book. ("No," I sobbed. She stared at me blankly. "Then why are you crying?" "Theoden is saaaaaad," I said, unable to explain more completely because I was, you know, weeping helplessly. Keep in mind that this was not the first - or the third - time we'd seen the movie.)

So it was a little weird, I thought, that I was the one saying, "Oh. Well, that's sad," and Best Beloved was the one surreptitiously wiping her eyes.

The next time I watched Dante's Prayer, I'd been in fandom longer, so I knew a little more. I'd also had time to process BB's explanations. So I was a little sadder. And so it went.

But this last time - well, in addition to tearing up and sniffling emotionally for some ten minutes after the vid was over (and yet being really kind of touched - OMG, Spock knew Kirk's name), I found myself wondering for the first time what Spock's death was like for the Star Trek fandom. I mean, seriously, that is painful now, and I know what's coming. Then? I think it must have hurt rather a lot. And I wondered what fannish reaction would look like if this was a current fandom - I mean, imagine if, say, Sam died with Dean pressed against the other side of the glass, helpless and bereft, and then - did people even know there would be another movie? [13]
"I have been watching this for days now, and simply cannot find the words to adequately express how expertly you've carried this off. More than any vid I've seen to date (and I've watched quite a few here), you've managed to fully capture the tie that binds them, each to the other. This is inexpressively beautiful, and I've downloaded the song. Each time I listen to it, the images from this masterfully crafted work spring effortlessly to mind. The ending absolutely haunts me...bravo!![14]

References

  1. Morgan Dawn's personal notes accessed March 19, 2013.
  2. Morgan Dawn's personal notes accessed March 7, 2015.
  3. astolat's tumblr post dated Feb 27, 2015. "The vid that made me become a vidder."
  4. In 2001, Shoshanna posted this commentary about the vids shown at Escapade to the Vidder mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  5. from The K/S Press #121 (2006)
  6. ShatnoyKisses post to the KirkSpockCentral mailing list dated March 17, 2013 (quoted with permission).
  7. muriel perun's comment in Killa's vid announcement post dated July 17, 2009.
  8. comment in Killa's vid announcement post dated July 17, 2009.
  9. comment in Killa's vid announcement post dated July 17, 2009.
  10. comment in the ontd-startrek The best Kirk/Spock vid ever made, hands-down. No joke post dated July 19, 2009; WebCite.
  11. visionaryopps Star Trek 05: Fanvids post dated July 8, 2011;
  12. comment in Killa's vid announcement post dated July 17, 2009.
  13. Major Fannish Events, The Fourth Vine, July 10, 2009
  14. {{{title}}},