Friday, 07 June 2013

Awful Greek words that apply to "The Rains of Castamere" When we left off, Catelyn was in the act of recognizing the terribleness of her moment. At 37:38 in the podcast, Steven and I argued about when the band began to play the song “The Rains of Castamere,” which is associated with House Lannister, and though this may seem like an insignificant detail, I don’t think it is. So I don’t want anyone to think that I’m arguing just to argue here, because this is one of the most important moments in traditional tragedy. In the Poetics, Aristotle claims that simple plots merely contain a catastrophe — something terrible happens for which general pity is felt — but complex plots combine that tragedy with anagnorisis, or a moment of recognition. This moment of recognition is not had by the audience, but by a character within the play; that is, it’s had by a character with whom the audience sympathizes, and through whose perspective the consequences of this catastrophe can be understood. In other words, for Aristotle, the superior play is one in which the audience’s sympathies are focalized through a perspective in a way that personalizes the catastrophe. It’s not just generally sad that these Trojans have to die, it’s particularly sad that we’re forced to watch one of them we care about realize he’s about to die. That’s the heart of traditional tragedy: it’s not the catastrophe itself (because the audience isn’t in actual jeopardy), but the sympathetic identification with the character who realizes he’s about to be killed (because that’s something the audience can actually feel) that makes a tragedy effective. In other word: this moment is important because it’s the engine of tragedy. The audience may only realize what’s happening when “The Rains of Castamere” begins to play, but because tragedy’s supposed to lead to reflection, it’s important to determine exactly when Catelyn does. So here we go. Robb and Talisa are having a long and playful conversation that ends in her informing him that she’s carrying a child named “Eddard Stark.” I’ve animated the 33-second-long conversation so you can see that it consists of 15 reversals and one pan down: There are a number of things to note about this sequence, including that these are shallow focus two-shots, meaning that the only two characters in focus are Robb and Talisa and that they share the frame in each of the fifteen reversals. Sharing the frame in a two-shot cements in the audience’s mind the connection between particular characters. This works when they’re strangers — but even more so when they’re already a married pregnant couple and bellies are being touched. The number of reversals means the length of each shot is a little over two seconds, which is on par with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (sandstorm chase), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (opening sequence), and Casino Royale (first 12 minutes not including precredits), i.e. action sequences in films with already very short shot lengths. If there’s a reason their exchange feels oddly rushed, it’s because it’s being filmed...

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