Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Sochi Olympics Are Going to be Epic! (Or Mythic. Or Both.)

You may be wondering why the heck I'm posting a trailer for the Olympics on a fairy tale blog. But then, if you're asking that - you haven't seen it. It's epic, mythic and like something out of Asgard (or maybe Niflheim is more accurate), Middle Earth or Mount Olympus... well, hey isn't that appropriate? Take a look:

Savage North cover by Wayne Reynolds
Frost Giant Jarl for Dungeon Magazine
(Artist Unknown)
I kind of love that the ad is all about conquering nature instead of about "being the best" or putting down other countries of athletes. This focus, while at first seeming grandiose (no - it is NOT a trailer from a new Lord of the Rings movie), the spot attempts to capture just how epic a thing it is that these athletes do at the Winter Olympics. And, in my opinion, kudos to the team that created this for doing so*. This is where it started - with the gods watching and mortal man defying nature, his own nature and the limitations the gods had thought they'd put on humans.

Myth and fairy tale are often linked in very cold regions. Sometimes it's hard to tell where a Norse fairy tale ends and the myth begins. The Frost Giants of legend make appearances in fairy tale, as do ice kings, queens, maidens, trolls and giants.

The chilling voiceover makes it clear: this is a story of epic proportions we're telling here; one future generations will talk about forever. Here's the transcript, narrated at full  grandmaster intensity, by British actor Charles Dance (who plays Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones**):

At the Wall (Game of Thrones Comic #7 cover)
Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister & Ghost
I am the dreadful menace.

The one whose will is done.
The haunting chill upon your neck.
I am the conundrum.
I will summon armies.

Of wind and rain and snow.
I made the black cloud overhead.
The ice, like glass below.

Not you, nor any other.

Can fathom what is nigh.
I will tell you when to jump.
And I’ll dictate how high.
The ones that came before you.

Stood strong and tall and brave.
But I stole their dreams away.
Those dreams could not be saved.

But now you stand before me.

Devoid of all dismay.
Could it be? Just maybe.
I’ll let you have your day.
And can't you see all those fairy tale creatures living in this setting, ready to challenge our modern day heroes? While our heroes wear technologically enhanced athletic gear for speed (and survival) and to gain a prize, are the heroes of our fairy tales seeking treasures in the ice and glass mountains so different? Granted, it's unlikely these people will lose their heads, their fortunes or their families (though they often skirt the edge of mortality) but it's not unheard of for these heroes to win a "princess" (or two) after the trial, or gain the key to the treasure vault of their city (sometimes literally!).

Too often I think we consider ourselves far away from all these old stories, from fairy tales and from myth but really, we're just the modern version of it.

And I love that this ad reminded me of all that.
And I'll be tuning in to the BBC (who have some of the best coverage of all the nations competing at the Olympics IMHO) to watch the athletes go "North of the Wall" and conquer Winter.

Bring on the 2014 Games!
(And snow, please. Sochi could REALLY use a heavy dose of snow over the next few weeks...)
* The trailer was directed by Tomasz Bagiński, polish director and animator. His film "The Cathedral". was nominated for an Oscar a few years ago.
** I wonder how long it took them to decide that there's no way they could have Mr. Dance say "Winter is coming.." without having this epically intense trailer dive bomb into a parody? Although it would have been funny - I'm glad they didn't (but just wait for the memes..!)

No comments:

Post a Comment