it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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  • Music:

But hold your own. Face the wind alone.

Listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel is bad for me. It makes me want to revise the Edda of Burdens books. And I'm not sure I need two fantasy series right now, thanks. Okay, Margeurite is a sissy. But she almost rocks "The Riddle" enough to be Muire-like. And the musical's (vastly improved) version of Chauvelin gets a lot of good Mingan-esque angst. And Percy's enough of a stiff to make a pretty good Strifbjorn.

Maybe I should just cave in and take up a fan vidding career. Farscape to "Where's the Girl?" anyone? Crais, Aeryn, and John....


I seem to have identified a common love-triangle dynamic....

Actually, I was thinking about the musical version of Chauvelin the other day. Because frankly, of all the characters, he fares best in the revisioning. It got me thinking about folk process--my obsession, as we all know--and how the various revisionings of The Scarlet Pimpernel actually have a lot of fan-fic-like elements to them. Specifically, in giving Chauvelin a personality and motivation other than being the cackling evil he is in the book.

Marguerite, don't forget that I know who you are
We were cut from the same surly star
Like two jewels in the sky sharing fire
Where's the girl so alive and still aching for more?
We had dreams that were worth dying for.

In fact, the modern Chauvelin is the most complex of the thee primary characters. Marguerite is misunderstood but virtuous, Percy is... well, Percy. Chauvelin is fascinating. And not just because the villains get the best songs.

Because the play (and some of the more recent movie versions) give him conflict. And they do it by, God help us all, shipping Chauvelin/Marguerite. That relationship isn't in the book. (I've read it. And several of the sequels.) It's a relationship imposed Specifically to give Chauvelin depth of character he didn't need by standards of the day. He could be a cackling villain then.

Now, to be interesting, he needs depth of motivation.

So make him a revolutionary, somebody who really believes in the democracy he's trying to create. And--more than that--make him love Marguerite. No, more than that. Make him Marguerite's ex-lover, whom she left for Percy. Now there's some goddamn conflict. Hell yeah.

Anyway, this is the same stunt that fanfic writers pull when they create relationships that aren't developed in canon. They're injecting layers of conflict to build their stories around. This is how storytelling works, and how it's always worked. Lancelot gets added to Arthurian canon to provide another layer of conflict that suits the tastes of the time, and Anne gets dropped when she stops being interesting.

'Course, this gets sticky when one is talking about properties that aren't in public domain, but that's a debate that's been adequately aired here and elsewhere. What interests me is how the emphasis in The Scarlet Pimpernel shifts from the aristocracy as unqualified heroes, and proletariat Chauvelin as an unqualified villain, to a certain emphasis on his qualities as a freedom fighter and a man with his own moral compass, even if it becomes something terrible when carried to a fanatic extreme.

But he identifies Marguerite as a commoner like himself, even if she's married to a lower-level aristocrat now, and he sees that she's betrayed the dream of democracy with her actions--even as Percy thinks she's betrayed the French nobility to the Terror.

What Chauvelin doesn't see is that in fighting his monsters, to borrow a phrase from that Nietzsche guy, he's become one himself.

Let her go, let her live, let her die on her own
We are all of us bruised and alone
Now we both will have nothing to hold.

Okay, it doesn't hurt that it's Terrence Mann. But still.
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