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Posts Tagged: 'fandom:+merlin:+meta'

Jun. 27th, 2012

Arthurian Things post #7 - Guenevere

So every little girl is supposed to grow up wanting to be Guenevere, right? She's the fairy-tale princess of the story, after all. She gets her newly-crowned king, her father is the one who gives him the round table, and she even gets to fall in love with the second most eligible man in the land, and have him love her back. What's not to like? Everyone loves her. But I never did.

I loved Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot. She was wonderful, but that was to be expected. She was from one of the great acting families of England. How could she not be perfect? And I love Angel Colby in Merlin, too. She's sweet, and when they let her be, she really adds something to the story. Too bad the writers don't know how to do a long-term plot without selling their characters short.

But for me? Neither of them get past my dislike of the character's part in the stories overall. In fact, Vanessa played right to them, and Merlin's Gwen is falling into the same trap. I've always had a dislike for the character, but it took me until college to really realize why. She's glorified in every Arthurian story as this beautiful (usually golden-haired) perfect match for Arthur. She's the most beautiful woman in the land, so with no other reason, she must be his wife, right? What does it matter what she does after that, because that's after happily ever after?

It bugs me. Because Lancelot's not her only conquest. she's always flirting with the other knights. The movies less so than the stories, but it's there. Yes, Lancelot is her "other" "true love," but that doesn't stop her from denigrating the knights who don't adore her and wait on her hand and foot to curry favour with her. And it certainly doesn't stop her from flirting with as many of them as she can.

In college, I read one of the Lays of Marie de France. A story called Lanval. Lanval is a young knight who comes to Arthur's court, and when the Queen tries to flirt with him, he avoids her passes, making her angrier and angrier. And when she learns he's in love with a faerie, she finds a way to come between them, nearly parting them forever. Now this is a story written by a nun, but even so, it shows a medieval view of the queen and at least part of how they saw her at the time. As someone who craved the attention of men.

If it were only one conquest, I might look on her more favourably, but it's not. Time and time again, Guenevere is shown as unfaithful to Arthur. In some of the earlier tales, Mordred is not Arthur's son, but Guenevere's lover, who then abducts her to try to steal England from Arthur. It is Guenevere who suggests Gawain be forced to marry the lothly lady, in order to curtail his flirting with the ladies of the court. Yes, this one can be seen in a more positive light, but when you read the texts, invariably, Guenevere comes off as sounding rather annoyed or jealous, and not at all interested in protecting any other women so much as punishing Gawain.

In short stories or long, and even in the movies, whether it is only Lancelot or others she focuses on, she's the one seeking out this attention. She wants it. She craves it. And she will do anything to have it. And with Lancelot, she's cast in the role of Eve, and her bite of the apple destroys Camelot. See that how you will, and a case can be made for that being the medieval view of the day--that no woman can be a positive influence, but at least Morgana, even in the depths of her malice, stands up for herself and her people. Guenevere seems to stand for the type of woman who thinks she deserves whatever she wants, and damn the cost. That or the spoiled little rich girl who doesn't know any better and goes about her innocent and merry way, destroying all she touches because she refuses to see the result of her actions.

I was so excited to see such a different sort of Guenevere at the beginning of the Merlin series. Here was a girl who wouldn't be playing the spoiled princess, right? But I was wrong. With each season, my expectations have been crushed just a little bit more. Especially the past two.

I worry about this coming season of Merlin because the writers seem to be forgetting the premise of this show, and they've completely taken all obstacles out of the way for Arthur and Gwen. They didn't have to fight to get past them. They're just gone. One wonders if they'll just bring back Nimueh at the end of the season and let her trap Merlin in the Crystal Cave, and rename the show...because they seem to slowly be forgetting why the bromance between Merlin and Arthur was even there, and are slowly replacing that with Arthur and Gwen. And I worry that Gwen will become the very embodiment of everything I have always hated about the character, more focused on herself than on the girl I know she could be, if she'd been written right this time.

It's really too bad, too, because I love these actors, and when the story is on point, it's amazing. But sometimes, it's just really hard to watch.

So yeah, that's my rant about Guenevere. What do you think of the character? Do you prefer her or Morgana, or another female character from the stories entirely?

Apr. 30th, 2012

Arthurian Things post #6 - Morgana le Fae

I can't recall where, exactly, my love for Morgana came from. It was definitely before I was aware of Mists of Avalon, because I remember playing with others in the SCA, and when we played at being in Camelot, I always wanted to be Morgana. Part of it was the fact that evil characters are just more interesting. All Guenivere did was sit around and eat bonbons or need to be rescued. Or macked on any Knight who let her... :P

Mists of Avalon only increased my love for her, and made it difficult for me to watch things like Excalibur, where she's so unrepentantly evil with no obvious reason other than peevishness. Which isn't to say I didn't love her in Excalibur (hell, how can you not love Helen Mirren?), it's just that her reasoning leaves a lot to be desired. Plus, a Morgana without dark hair just seems wrong.

Then there was Helena's Morgana. I only watched the Merlin Mini-series once. She was a kind of freak (not surprising, given it was Helena), so that made her difficult to watch as well. Even though I was ready to love her version to the ends of the earth.

I was quite glad when the Mists Mini-series finally made it to TV, though it really didn't do justice to the story. The book has so many little details, it would have been hard to get them all in. Juliana Margoles was all right, but I'm not a fan, and this didn't make me one, either. It was just a lackluster version of a great book.

So it wasn't until BBC's Merlin came on the air that I finally saw the Morgana I truly loved: Katie McGrath. Katie brings everything to the table--looks, style, grace, and a seeming understanding of a lady and how she would hold herself. No, the show's not perfectly medieval, but I adored her. I only wished the writers had been willing to more slowly develop her evil, instead of forcing it the way they did and making it seem almost comical.

Even so, Katie manages to shine, when Morgana is truly feeling things, as opposed to plotting or leering evilly. You can see her heartbreak at losing Gwen, or her anger at Uther for what he's done to her and others. Her confusion over her powers in the second season was especially well-acted, and if they'd moved slower at the end of that season, I could easily see her sink into vengeance and madness.

There is one honorable mention here, too. Eva Green's Morgan in the Stars series, Camelot. Though she was unrepentant in her evil, we could not only see her suffering, but her reasoning, even if it was flawed. I had high hopes for her character. Too bad the series was cancelled in the first season...

I think the reason I prefer Morgana over others is that as a character, there's so much to draw from. Depending on the legends you choose, she can have up to nine (yes, nine, there is a mention in a legend or two) sisters, not to mention her brother. And Mordred, whether nephew or son, is always an excellent ally. Not to mention her sister's other sons (of which Gawain is my particular favorite).

But most of all? I love the incestuousness between she and Arthur (when it's there--I tend to gravitate toward those stories that have it). I love the angst, danger, and evil inherent because of that liaison, which is why I tend to prefer her as Mordred's mother over Morgause. And, deep down, I believe that Morgana both hates and loves Arthur, and it is that confusion that drives her to fight against him time and again.

So...who's your favorite Arthurian Character, and why?

Sep. 19th, 2009

Reasons I love Merlin

  1. Bradley James
  2. Bradley James's smile
  3. Bradley James's laugh
  4. Colin Morgan
  5. Colin Morgan's eyes
  6. Colin Morgan's cheekbones
  7. King Giles
  8. Tony Head
  9. The Slash Dragon
  10. Merlin's mother ships Arthur/Merlin
  11. Arthur/Merlin
  12. Prince Prat
  13. "I can take you apart with less than that."
  14. "I'm happy to serve you until the day I die."
  15. Girls who use swords!
  16. Wandless magic
  17. Lancelot knows
  18. Labyrinth
  19. OT4 (5?)
Mmm...all I can come up with at the moment.  But surely enough for now?