Back to that post the new video side tracked me from.
My new avatar is a clue to where my thinking's going as I was chosen at Scarefest, the second time I did the scare maze 'The Welcoming' on Halloween I was actually one of the chosen ones- three things to note:
1. Being chosen you were marked on your cheek with two brown lines.
2. Being chosen you were singled out as deserving of the utmost respect from the community, something of a village V.I.P.
3. Being chosen all the villagers interacted with you referencing the respect you deserved and an important event to follow that you were a significant part of, and the fact they would find you/ return to you later.
Hold those thoughts.
I've been off here for a bit until recently with work and other real life stuff but I'm back (apologies!) to share some more thoughts following the competition and recent campaign which I think is one of the best build up campaigns a park has ever done.
This is going to be a long post as it's wrapping up a lot of my previous and more recent thoughts, but it's worth it. It's kind of beautiful and unexpectedly positive in a philosophical way! And I may sneak in a few puns. And yes it is very geeky- I am a writer and wordsmith creative type which explains a lot including why I tend to as well.
For me the dual interpretation of the theme I considered is now confirmed and very intentional.
Merlin are being really clever and The Wickerman (too confirmed by all the implications now to be a red herring) works on two levels:
1. For those who like a darker horror theme: it is a match to the films and they can use this rather more sinister form for scare mazes and that audience- the scare maze certainly didn't shy away from this with its charred person emerging from a pyre so it can be the more unnerving theme of *that thing that happens in the films* but pyre's where I think the second more family friendly angle is as
2. For the family friendly in-ride angle:
as I've said in response to people questioning 'is a wickerman theme too gruesome for a park to use' I think they've cleverly used this less gory form for the ride
(a bit like The Smiler ride theming compared to The Sanctuary scare maze - I didn't do that scare maze but I'm guessing it was similarly a much darker use of the ride's theming).
Marking with ash, the skeletons and names on banners written out in the symbols in the scare maze, ritual....
The wickerman structure and the ritual associated with 'being chosen' is how the villagers honor their dead.
And it's more positive and less Doom & Sons and gloom than it first sounds.
Putting my Agatha Christie / Columbo / Through the keyhole head on. Let's look at the evidence so far.
Why am I now certain of this funeral rite theme and more specifically a cremation aspect?
"Cremation is the combustion, vaporization and oxidation of cadavers to basic chemical compounds, such as gases, ashes and mineral fragments...
Cremation may serve as a funeral or post-funeral rite" / A pyre (Ancient Greek: πυρά; pyrá, from πῦρ, pyr, "fire"), also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood,
for burning a body as part of a funeral rite or execution. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon or under the pyre, which is then set on fire.. (Wikipedia)
Cremation equals restarting the cycle, carbon to carbon, the rings on the tree of the first clue, and all the other clues we have point here.
Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecular oxygen, O2, to the stronger bonds in the combustion products carbon dioxide and water releases energy...... the bond energies of the fuel play only a minor role here. At a certain point in the combustion reaction, called the ignition point, flames are produced. The flame is the visible portion of the fire. Flames consist primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen. (Again Wikipedia). Hold these thoughts too.
This body of evidence is from the combustible I mean combination of teasers and prequel experience we've had to date.
All three syllables and twelve letters
Less of a close match but it strikes me we may see BEORNEN change symbols and letters into BURNING soon (both have 7 letters)
( Reconnect ) / tree / centre / chosen / fusing / ritual
Tree - ash, 'age running rings round you' clue- trees are old and aging also means reaching your end or rebirth depending what you believe, also a clue to time, same context
Reconnect/centre, either return to the earth or again whatever you believe regarding death, return to seed (which is true whatever you believe- Earth recycles, even soil has its origins)
Centre also hints at heart which in turn hints at hearth
Chosen- again this is linked to many belief systems in many cultures, that death is a chosen time or for atheist types it's just when fate 'chooses you' as it were, deciding your time is up,
'be chosen' is perhaps a positive in the villagers eyes- enjoy your life but do not live it in fear of its end, live it with purpose.
Fusing- again the return to Earth, carbon to carbon, carbon is an element that fuses with elements to make much of our universe, overlaps with other ideas of elements,
"Classical elements typically refer to the concepts in ancient Greece of earth, water, air, fire (and sometimes aether)" (Wikipedia)
Ritual- ceremony such as one to honor the dead- this was directly mentioned re the scare maze - I'll come back to that
These are well 'chosen' words for they also link to fire, wood and a special event where you make a big fire (Halloween is also close to bonfire night of course, burning the guy)
The message upon entering the competition and thus choosing to want to be chosen: "Thank you. Your time will come."
"The time is upon us"
Carving out the wickerman image into tree bark- marking the passing of the deceased "pay homage..."?
..."and unite" (echoing the previous line of reconnecting with the elements) > unite as a community to honor the deceased, yet also, when life ends
to (re)unite - (re)connect with your world, which is of course your beginning, death not being something to fear because you have become part of your world through living your life
The end of life: "it is done", "in his shadow you will truly see the light" (Death?, could there be a bit of a grim reaper hint)
Passing on to something else? "The awakening has begun", "an ancient ideology", is this of an ouroboros nature?: something constantly re-creating itself (fire effectively keeps itself going in the right conditions, at its end life recreates life through nature's recycling processes),
the Nemesis egg (a death/birth easter egg). "Re-assess your modern *lives* ", "Re-connect with the Earth and its elements"
"Prepare for something big", rituals, death itself, funerals are one of society's most revered events and prepared with a high level of importance by many cultures
"a beacon of hope that can save us all", "putting their bravery to the test" - Death as a ride theme? That's a bit miserable isn't it? I don't think the death theme is such a negative one,
it's partly referencing how we cope with death, our pondering that it may not be the end, even if all we do is return to the earth even that view is something we are reminded to see as a positive, everything being connected and of worth
"discover", brighter future", note at points like this- there's some laughter in the videos that supports the more sinister interpretation of the theme too.
"as the sun's warmth gives light to the earth" (see my comments re. carbon), the sun provides energy that can create or destroy (the sun itself can cause fires)
Cleverly echoing this "focus our energy" (this is how the sun causes fire, yet also references rituals such as funerals/ death ceremonies again)
Highlighting the A symbol which is one of the symbols alluding to the wickerman logo, = beginnings? A seems quite deliberately drawn with a wispy smoketrail and up arrow through a horizon line
One villager looking to the skies as another falls to the earth.....
"Gift" fits double meaning - can be a sacrifice or offering, the blindfold bit in this video fits as per the scare maze
And all the multi-meaning light references (light burns)- such as beacon
"We interrupt this to bring you good news. You are invited to a celebration; a celebration of our Earth and its beauty. All this noise. All this technology.
It's too much, isn't it? There's no time or space to think, is there? Deep down you know the truth, don't you? The technology has now taken the reigns. How did you get here?
Maybe it doesn't matter. What matters is this chance; your opportunity to reconnect with the Earth. Come join us near the woods and partake in our celebration. How far you choose to go... that is your choice. What part you choose to play... only you can decide. Be chosen on the night where the living meets the dead."
Even the phrase "the welcoming" fits both birth and death and how societies celebrate both
On 'the beornen':
It's a clever name and I really like it- good choice- as a poet the most powerful words are those that convey multiple meaning and this was a perfect choice.
Aside from the fact it hints at burning, the bear/boar imagery in the scare maze, and born/borne and links to being/be chosen it links nicely to the origins of various words
and I'm a total word nerd so I love this (it's also nice for its links to old English history which gives it a great feel within the theming of how Alton are building up to SW8.
I've done some research and found some interesting links.
I'll leave you these little nuggets to find, see if you can spot things I spottedhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beorn#Con ... d_creation
including as a verbhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=oH9 ... dq=Beornen
under 'balew' in the above linking the word to both torment and burning as well as the two entries for 'balew', again showing word is clever choice for both interpretations
I also noticed something when I re-listened to the music from the scare maze regarding the 2017 scarefest images- do they show the beornen? Are the beornen the spirits of the living and dead,
the actual connection between the two, that which fuses them however you interpret this?, the beings, the villagers
In the videos: "the beornen are rarely seen" - yet - "we are the beornen", "the beornen have been learning", "unite with the chosen ones"
Look at the shadowy figures in front of the towers in the image here from the scarefest images- two of them very clearly echo poses in the videos.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUwgBAAs42Q
Other things in the scare maze:
Clues to elements other than wood (the 'be chosen' rock, water etc- still thinking we won't just see wood and fire in the finished attraction.)- wood bark on the soil, carbon connections, think what soil is, likewise the dunking stool and well- perhaps a hint at how birth/naming is marked, fusing could be that fusing of life- it's beginning and end, ashes to ashes, carbon to carbon, carbon fuses to form other things
"Carbon compounds form the basis of all known life on Earth, and the carbon-nitrogen cycle provides some of the energy produced by the Sun and other stars.
... it forms an extraordinary variety of compounds, ... According to current physical cosmology theory, carbon is formed in the interiors of stars" (Wikipedia)
Carbon is part of both steel and wood. Remember things changing in the videos? Reconnect with the elements...
The marking with ash: "Ashes were used in ancient times to express grief" (Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, again)
"Ash or ashes are the solid remains of fires. Specifically, it refers to all non-aqueous, non-gaseous residues that remain after something is burned." "Charcoal is the lightweight black carbon
and ash residue produced by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis — the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen." again from Wikipedia- ash linked to carbon and the life-death cycle and cremation as a funeral rite.
As far as the theme being positive not just death, death and more death- there was a lot of earthly beauty theme in the maze, and questioning our focus such as how focused we our on consuming (a clever pun on fire but also the fact that we too are ultimately consumed.), it wasn't all fear,
the scare was the unknown and the questioning what was going on, but much of the experience was actually a pleasant one.
Linking to the video quote "in his shadow you will truly see the light" I'm wondering was the blindfold bit just before you saw the pyre? In theme terms this again is that death/rebirth theme
and I'm still thinking there could be a dark tunnel just before the main 'fire' themed part of the ride and that both these things hint at this. The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
In the evening the sun sets, in the morning it rises, yet as the light goes out the lights go on.
Ritual- ceremony such as one to honor the dead- this was directly mentioned re the scare maze alluding to things such as 'the day of the dead' and Halloween:
"The story so far….
The woods surrounding the village of Alton harbor a mysterious group,
which until recent sightings were unseen by the modern world. Whispers around the village say that the group are angered by people abusing the world’s natural resources
and the rapid advance of technology.
Every year the secluded group host a festival to celebrate their own interpretation of Halloween – paying homage to the earth and celebrating the crossover between the living world and the dead.
The group have recently infiltrated the Alton Towers Resort and for the first time are allowing outsiders to celebrate with them.
But what part will you (‘the outsiders’) play in this ritual? You’ve been Chosen and are about to find out."
From https://www.thewelcoming.co.uk/story-so ... -be-chosen
So this campaign really appeals to arty types like myself- there's so much clever subtlety and actual beauty to it (even the woodlice in one of the videos- genius, I loved that and similar easter eggs), did anyone realise they smoked us a clever red herring that may have been missed with the 'smokehouse' plans for the old 'Flu (m) e (flue!)' building (now scrapped), the London video (London 'eye' / raven?- death link again and death superstitions link, the chains (Hex is tree/death and chains are associated with ghosts and horror), there are more easter eggs like these I'm sure and for the non-enthusiasts who don't know all the extra bits we do they're cooking this one nicely on a tastily creative slow burn.
The letter symbols tie in with some of these ideas thematically. Their team did some good brainstorming!
Something else I really like about the marketing - perhaps due to Merlin's concerns over if wood would appeal to the public versus steel alternatives, is that it's very much oriented towards fostering an appreciation of wood very cleverly so between the lines it's subtly saying appreciate wood as a coaster 'medium' not just steel!
As a big fan of wooden coasters (I love steel too) I adore the fact they're doing a bit of wooden coaster PR, also possibly a bit of a nod to us enthusiasts who've been pleading with Merlin
that wood is good for a long time and how much we love it! From reactions I overheard at the park people are really excited about the new ride and think it looks really good but there are probably a few wood skeptics out there who might need a nudge towards appreciating it and that it's not 'old fashioned' (the only sort-of negative comment I overheard albeit not said in a specifically negatively critical way was 'they're building an old fashioned ride'), erm, no, they're building a new ride and the material they're using is wood! It's fusing with their offering of steel coasters!
See how the videos make woodland and trees and appreciating them a central focus.