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American cable TV channel AMC has created what I think must be the first videopoem ever made as a trailer for a television show, the award-winning crime drama Breaking Bad. In another first, the video garnered a feature in the NY Daily News:
Did “Breaking Bad” just drop a literary spoiler about its upcoming season?
On Tuesday, AMC released a chilling new teaser for the long-anticipated final episodes of the series. The clip shows no characters, no plot and no obvious hints. In fact, the video is only scenery shots of the New Mexico desert, interspersed with a few glimpses of White’s home and abandoned meth-cooking trailer and one peek at what looks like White’s hat, lost in the sand.
The real hint is the soundtrack: Bryan Cranston, who plays meth kingpin [Walter] White, reading aloud Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias” over a steady, heartbeat-like thump.
“Ozymandias,” supposedly inspired by the Egyptian statue of Ramesses II, is a particularly appropriate choice for the series. The central theme of the poem is the inevitable decline of empires.
“Nothing beside remains,” Shelley wrote. “Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/ the lone and level sands stretch far away.”
“Breaking Bad” has always had a bit of a literary bent. Last season, White’s brother-in-law had an important revelation while perusing Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Will all that White created crumble into decay? Viewers will have to wait until Aug. 11, when the series returns, to find out.
This is, in my view, a highly credible videopoem on its own, and I’m pleased to see that the two official versions on YouTube (one with AMC branding and one without) have so far garnered just shy of 700,000 views. No filmmaker is credited, but I’m assuming that the show’s creator Vince Gilligan had a great deal to do with it, so I’ll put him down as filmmaker until better information comes along.