Tag Archives: gaelic

En France: Cauchmars, Godemiché, et Mamalons Percé

Last week we left off with the destruction le Comte St. Germain’s cargo ship, who vowed to make Jamie and Claire pay for their meddling.  This week’s Season Two Episode Two opens with visions of a woman in a beautiful costume (previously on display at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City), but who is that woman?  CUT!  Jamie is making passionate love to his bride, and both appear to be enjoying it.  All of a sudden Claire becomes Jack Randall who encourages Jamie by saying “don’t stop” and what happens next is a scene from American Psycho.  It’s a nightmare, a cauchmar, but Jamie feels Black Jack is alive…in his head.

dontstopThis face instead of Claire’s would give me nightmares, too.

Fast forward…

Running out of the house gowned in 18th century Dior, Claire is splendidly magnificent in a very simplistic way, ready for an outing, after insulting the maid and the footman.

dui                                          Terry’s Dior inspired gown.

As we travel through the streets of “Paris” (which is actually Prague), we are delighted by the scenes of regular life as viewed from the street. Ballast paved streets. Those streets never cease to amaze me in thier simplistic sturdiness. Ballast laid in patterns and filmed in such a way as to appear to be a fan to engage the flames of the political intrigue.  I’m sure none of that was meant to be; it’s how I see it in my mind’s eye.

ballaststreet                                          Ballast streets of “Paris.”

We listen to Claire’s tale about the Eiffel Tower, WWII, the coming revolution, but we don’t know where she is headed.  She is obviously looking for something, and then she arrives at her destination.  La Apothicaire de Maitre Raymond.  She enters the mystical world of Master Raymond, through a blue facade, wearing blue, and he calls her Madonna (sounds Spanish, though) and they launch into a repartee of herbal-speak.

adea                                                  Maitre Raymond

But the Maitre has already heard of Claire, from le Comte St. Germain, no less!  Maitre Raymond is well cast and just as froggy as I expected him, despite his wig. Claire finds a friend in Maitre Raymond through their mutual frenemy, le Comte.

What is Outlander without a good sword fight?  Murtagh takes Jamie through the ranks of getting back to his old physical self.  We see him struggle with the blade, his hand tremble, and he finally finds the verve and fends off Murtagh’s blade.  Old Jamie is coming alive!  By the way, sword fighting is just too cool for words.

adaara                     Training with his faithful Godfather, Murtagh.

The French look on as though Murtagh and Jamie are savages…oh wait, they are Scottish Highlanders and a bit like aliens to the locals, certainly savages to the British.  Murtagh, full of insults, to the people, the country, and the aroma.

Yet, we would think he is a stout Jacobite and he suggests that to kill the rebellion, the head of the snake (Prince Charlie) must be cut off.  Such words!  Me thinks he just wants to hasten his return to Scotland and stop wasting wine by selling it instead of drinking it.  After returning to Jared’s Paris apartment, the real action starts.

ftrAnd how about the asymmetric design of Claire’s dress? Just a hint of what is to come.

Without prolonging the details, the rest of the episode exposes different parts of decadent French culture, complete with a penile scene at Madame Elise’s with Jamie and Murtagh in the company of Bonnie Prince Charlie. While le Prince is attempting to convince Jamie to act on his behalf in seeking an audience with Le Roi Louis Quinze de France. Why? Because the Prince is not accepted at court, so Jamie has to do his dirty work.

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So what was the deal with the dildos?  While Jamie and Murtagh clearly look uncomfortable during the “wifely” display at the brothel, the Prince was all for it, exclaiming he would buy all the dildos on parade!  Murtagh stands up to the Prince after Jamie does, but Charles wants only to hear God the Almighty whispering in his ear “Be King, be King, you are the King of Scotland.”   So to show his divine nature to his newfound friends, he goes to dip his sword into the nearest honeypot.  The Prince is well played.

Were there really male appendage toys in France at the time? Yes, there were and here is an example of one that is believed to be from 18th century France.

dilNo thanks, not for purchase or otherwise.  Image from Science & Society.

Continuing on with the body part theme, Claire goes to visit her friend, Louise de la Tour de Rohan, a social butterfly of the French court and while in need of Claire’s friendship, well suited to the Fraser cause.  Waxing?  And by a Turk?  Yes, it is a big thing there and while Louise is undergoing 18th century depilatory, we meet Mary Hawkins. The shy stutterer, who is aghast at Louise’s lack of shame while she spreads ’em on the chaise lounge ready to have her Brazilian bikini wax.

OUCH.  Never having done anything like THAT down THERE, the ripping of linen off flesh had me cringing

adfadfadamore than Claire and Mary…

adfadfa

Mary, where has Claire heard that name before?  She can’t place it, but will.  Louise extends the much anticipated invitation to court, ready for the next phase of stopping the rebellion.

Never meek, Claire goes for la cirer de sexe and shocks Jamie with her hairless honeypot.  As he enjoys bringing her pleasure, he again has the Claire-turns-into-Randall image, which is the quickest way for Jamie to experience coitus interruptus.  Again we see a frail man, still in the construction phase of his lean-to from that fortress he had prior to his torture at the hands of Captain Randall.

Red, I’m seeing red.

redSo is Jamie.  And Murtagh.  Not enough red in the socially right places, though.  THAT infamous red dress appears down Jon Gary Steele’s magnificent staircase, exposing at least down to Claire’s second rib.  Having seen the dress in person, it is a sight to behold, even holding Murtagh’s gaze longer than is proper. There is no other way to gain the King’s attraction than by distraction, from others.  Terry pulled off the corset-less masterpiece and Claire is held into the dress by pure sempstress genius, no tape, no nuthin’ but red holding in her girls.  Jamie can’t see down to her navel, and the “third rib” is purely colloquial, since you could see her third rib because the dress was that low.

No escape for Murtagh, but clearly his sensibilities are in shock as are Jamie’s. Jamie, being a Renaissance man, accepts Claire’s fan as good enough, albeit with a suggestion to have a larger one (which she procures).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed the rather short nature of Claire’s dress, well above her ankles.

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This apparently was a trend in the 18th century and is when shoes became a fashion accessory, just like those to-die-for gladiators Claire wore with the red dress.

satradfadfaTo read more about dress fashions, click here.

The last episode was also all about Terry’s stunning costumes.  Louise prances about in the bow-tie dress (was the neckline lower than her aereolae and the bow covered them?), Claire in her red dress, Mary looked magnificent in lavender satin.

adfea In runs Annelise de Merriac, who throws herself into Jamie’s arms while Claire, Louise, and Mary look on, puzzled.  I guess Jamie forgot to tell Claire of his monk-inducing and failed pursuit of the lovely Annelise (you can read a bit more about Jamie’s desire to be a monk in The Exile).  BUT, Annelise to the rescue, she takes Jamie to meet King Louis on his, er, throne.

kingthroneUp to now, this has to be the funniest part of the episode, watching the King try to pinch one off.  The poor man has stage fright! Parritch!  Bring some parritch!  Jamie’s grand introduction to the King and all he can do is suggest he eat a bowl of oats, mid valsalva maneuver.

Stuck in yet another awkward situation, Claire makes a quick exit to get some air, with a much larger fan, after discussing peters and pricks with the French noblewomen, and spying Miss Mary talking to a very young man.  Who is the young man?  Definitely not her intended, as he was described as old.  She still can’t place where she knows Mary from, either.

Enter Monsieur Duverney, there is no other man more hilarious than he.  Louise baits him into thinking Claire wants an assignation, which leads to the man making a complete and utter fool of himself by fondling Claire’s red-clad feet.  Jamie tosses him off the balcony, and a soggy Minister of Finance emerges from the pond, wig in hand. After le Monsieur promises his friendship to the Frasers, in walks the King, with his most recent paramour…and her breasts.

swmsIn another stunning declaration of her talent, Terry gives Outlander fans another infamous dress, the Nipple/Swan Dress. This was so well done and even Murtagh appreciated the costuming, much to Jamie’s chagrin.

Capturemutt

The final scenes encompass the disastrous previous meeting with the Duke of Sandringham and his duplicitous nature. Murtagh swears to be his undoing, Jamie succeeds in garnering a sale of port, and Claire…Claire orders Jamie and Murtagh awa’ to deal with the Duke? Very un-Jamie like, to let Claire give him the fluff in public.  Ah well, Claire decides to dish on the Duke that she is aware of his two-faced actions and in the process meets Alex Randall, the younger brother of the very much alive, Jonathan Randall. To say that Claire was visibly shaken at the news of Black Jack’s survival is an understatement.  In addition, Alexander Randall was the very man with whom Mary Hawkins was conversing.  aaaaaaaaa

Fireworks. Thundering explosions. The chaos outside mirrored Claire’s own internal chaos of Jamie’s reaction – if she tells him – that Black Jack Randall was alive.  Well put: what then?

There was a lot of material covered in this episode, and mixing of different areas of the book, Dragonfly in Amber. Some additions, but all in all, Ron Moore et al did a fantastic job on the episode.  Terry Dresbach hit a grand slam on costumes.

Most photos from Starz.   All opinions are my own.

dior

 

 

Droughtlander: The End.

Finally the epic stretch of Droughtlander is over.  The End.  Finis. For the majority of fans in the US, Starz aired the Season Two premiere of Outlander’s Dragonfly in Amber on Saturday, April 9, 2016.  Ron Moore, the Executive Producer, wrote the first episode, “Through a Glass, Darkly” and did he ever deliver a gripping epic end to Droughtlander. If you haven’t seen Episode 201 yet, then I suggest you tuck away this blog to read later.    At the end of Season One we leave Claire and Jamie on the boat, full of reassurances that all will be well.
Image from Starz
Opening scene of Season Two, we find Claire describing her pain as she is lying on the ground, then gets up and is looking around, at the stones, and through the grass as she realizes she is missing something – a something that is a ring from which a jewel has probably fallen out.

Missing stone

The first minute or two is enough to gut wrench anyone and bring the strongest to tears.  Ron’s writing and Claire’s performance in the opening scene is a powerful promise to the remainder of the episode and keeps (me anyway), on the edge of my seat waiting for the next scene.
 As Claire discovers from a passing motorist, after she almost rips his head off, that it is indeed 1948 and the English have won the battle of Culloden, she has us all feeling the pain of loss in seconds, as if we had been on the battlefield losing the centuries old clan system and way of life.
Paper
Frank arrives to the hospital to find the wife he was convinced hadn’t left of her own volition.  Claire’s body language screams “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE” louder than any verbalization can, and in fact, her spoken words give that very same attitude.  Here is where my first thought of a missed opportunity to have a grieving Frank is missed. Frank responds with a very flat “And I’m so very grateful” line after Claire tells him she is back, and the entire sequence is enough to make me just want to fast forward a bit.  It was flat and uninspiring, sounding nothing like a man who is relieved his wife-who-has-been-missing-for-years should feel. I have my own speculations on this front, which will be revisited later in the season.  On a side note, as Claire looks out the hospital room window, we see a lady walking a dog across the streeet and that dog belongs to Ron and Terry (information from Maril Davis’s tweets).
Discussions Frank has with the Reverend Wakefield are all excellently placed and are enough to believe he does have the patience of Job and is trying to pass along that patience to Frank. Claire bluntly tells Frank she is pregnant and Frank, for a microsecond, is happy and elated before he realizes that it couldn’t be his and not only because his wife has been gone for two years. Yes, two years. There is a comment where he says she’s been gone for two years and I thought I didn’t hear it correctly, but I did.  We have a compressed timeline in the show and book readers know she was gone for three years.  In the show she disappeared at Samhain 1945 (in the Outlander book it’s Beltane 1945), which would be six months later than the book.  We do know she returns in 1948, as stated by the passing motorist.  So she has been gone (for the show) about 2.5 years.
During the interchange and when Frank realizes that his wife has been well-swived by another man, we see him nearly explode in a rage and beat Claire, which actually reminded me of Black Jack Randall.  Instead of showing Claire’s hallucinatory moment with Frank as he leaned over the bed and “became” Captain Randall, this would have been a better placement of her hallucination given the violence both Jack Randal was prone to and the instant that Frank began his resentment of Claire.
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We see him balling a fist, a la Black Jack Randall, and he lets his flash of anger dissipate; however, the seed has been planted.
What is this about Frank being sterile? I’ve often wondered how Frank knew he was sterile and this bit comes out during a talk with Reverend Wakefield.  Frank confides in the Reverend about how he and Claire had been trying to conceive to no avail and that one year earlier he had his fertility tested to find out he was sterile. WHAAAT? His wife is gone a little longer than one year (the show) and then he has his swimmers checked?  I have a feeling this is setting us up for future events and if you’ve read the books, you will know what I’m referring to.  If you are a show fan, well, just tuck that bit of info behind a door labeled “Frank Can’t Have Kids” and hopefully we will have enough seasons to unlock that bit of business. Diana is known for revisiting scenes and topics several books and years later, so don’t forget about this tidbit.  While the Reverend speaks of little Roger, he tells him that this is an opportunity to be a father to a child who otherwise would not have one.  Sage advice and well done.  By the by, Roger is just the cutest little kid.
Claire and Frank are new to each other again, neither can know of the experiences the other has had the past two-plus years, but Claire does confide in Mrs. Graham, who believes her far-fetched story and helps her to ease the instantaneous disruption of her past life.  Claire realizes she must tell Frank the entire story and does so after she tells him she wants to keep all questions and comments at bay until the end.  Frank tells her she doesn’t have to tell it and can do so in time, but she must tell and tell she does. It’s my opinion that Frank doesn’t really believe her, but then even he can’t explain how Claire came into possession of the historian-verified authentic 18th century clothing.  If it smells like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, it must be a duck.  Claire and Frank strike a bargain (keep this bit of info handy for any potential future seasons) and off they go to Boston – after he burns her clothes.  Brilliant acting and story lines, hated the burning of the clothing. Frank the historian burns history he could have had a chance to preserve, especially articles from his beloved Jacobite era.
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I realize it was to erase the past from Claire’s mind, but I see it as a missed opportunity for Frank (who has no small ego by the way) to have the clothing preserved in a museum.
Capture5
One.  More.  Step.  That’s all Claire needs to touch down in America with her own two feet.  She accepts Frank’s hand, the camera moves from her face and pans down to…Jamie, holding her hand to get off the ship at La Havre, France, 1745.
I’ll just shout it here… THIS WAS BRILLIANT and had to be the best film editing of the episode. Hats off to Ron, Metin, and the entire production team for this. I’m not alone, the audience at the premiere held at the American Museum of Natural History on Monday, April 4th, thought so too.  Tears, yelling, sighs, heavy breathing, and applause. You name it, it happened in that instant.  Bravo. It happened again at the screening on the 9th.
We are reacquainted with an injured Jamie and his dour godfather, Murtagh, as they disembark the ship in France. Jamie is happy to be off as Claire is confessing that she thought she might have to throw him overboard a few times during the crossing.  Here is where I found the set up to be strange (go ahead, strangle me).  We know they filmed with a real ship in the Clyde area of Glasgow.  Now, I’m a 21st century boater and this is from my experience boating – there is VERY little chance that any captain would EVER set up a ramp off the bow of a ship.  Of any size.
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The bow is the part of the ship that feels every single movement of the water.  Why they didn’t have the ramp off the port side and onto the quay, I have no idea.  Strange. Weird.  Unrealistic. The midship region has less movement and is less susceptible to rocking, safer for loading and unloading, provides a shorter span, etc.  Let’s not forget that unloading comes from the bilges and they would have to go up more steps to remove goods from the bow. Someone help me out as to a good reason this was done, other than “it’s TV.”  This is the last bit that made me realize I was watching a show and not embodied in the characters so well played by the cast.
Claire is full of suggestions on how to stop the rebellion but Jamie wants to know how to win.  Alas for the lass, she doesna ken how to win.  We see Jamie very uncomfortable, clearly still affected by his pain, both physically and mentally.  Claire tells Jamie that being in France is where they can stop the Prince and that they can ask his cousin Jared to set them up with introductions, since he is a well-connected Jacobite.  So it’s settled, meet Jared and then face the wrath of Murtagh because they refuse to tell him what they are up to…until it is the proper time.
Fast forward to a meeting with Jared, Jamie’s Fraser cousin who is steeped in politics and the wine business.  He, a skeptic Scot in a time of political deviance, doubts Jamie’s desire to meet with the Jacobites in France.  He ends up revealing the 200+ reasons, in the form of his very scarred back, why he has reason to rise up against the [English] King.  Of course he can’t tell Jared why, so this will have to suffice.  They strike a bargain, Jamie squeezes a quarter out of a nickel, leaving Jamie in charge of Jared’s wine business, earning a 35% share of profits, a place to stay, along with a loose promise of backing by the Clan Fraser. Voilà!  Problems solved.
Capture7Until Claire meddles again, that is.  While at the docks at La Havre, she witnesses what appears to be a body being unloaded (from the mid-ship, no less!) from a ship, she decides to investigate.
Capture8Now look at the above photo, it is almost a slack tide, as noted by the wet rack line on the seawall in the background to the left, and the ramp isn’t at a significant slant.  Now look at the next photo:
Capture9Same body being carried off, yet the ramp is at a greater angle.  The last two images are taken from a time when they were filming at a very low tide:
Capture10Oops. A little problem with continuity. Bulkheads and living on the water are my life, so this is very noticeable to me.   Enough of tides, let’s get back to bodies.
Puss filled blisters. Fever. Not a good thing.
Capture11Claire pushes past the seamen to examine the sailor, makes Jamie stay back because she can’t get the pox, which is what she thinks it is.
Capture12Enter le Comte St. Germain, and another body. into the storeroom.  Her proclamation of the smallpox has not gone over well, the port master tells le Comte that his ship must be destroyed, and Claire has made a new enemy.   This is yet another perfect example of Claire completely overstepping her 20th century bounds into the 18th century, not realizing how her actions endanger others, even though she thinks she is helping.  She doesn’t realize the danger she puts herself and others in; however, trouble does seem to find her, she doesn’t always find the trouble.
Le Comte insults the Frasers and he learns that they are related to Jared.  It is quite evident that the actor (Stanley Weber) is a native French speaker, even to my novice ear (I did take French many years ago), making it obvious that Claire, Jamie, and Jared are not native French speakers – it all fits well.   Le Comte swears they will both pay and we see the infamous burning of the ship described in the book come to the screen.  Jamie and Claire exit stage right with le Comte glaring at them.
And that’s a wrap.  What did you think?  Did you think it was a good opener for Starz?  Except for a few things noted, I believe it to be an excellent start to the season.  Gripping, intriguing, suspenseful; all good traits to hook new viewers.   The acting is excellent, the small touches and nuances were superbly done.  Hats off to everyone.
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Disclaimer: All views are my own while all images are from Starz.

 

Graham McTavish: Gaelic – It’s in my DNA

It’s been a month since more than 300 Outlander fans flocked to the Thru the Stones conference in Davenport, Iowa, where super-fan Debbie Ford set up a day and a half of activities complemented by a Meet & Greet with Diana Gabaldon and Graham McTavish.

Graham and Diana at the Thru the Stones conference (12/6/2014)
Graham and Diana at the Thru the Stones conference (12/6/2014)

I had the opportunity to sit with Graham for a quick chat before he left the conference; here is the second part of that interview:

O: If you, Graham, not Dougal, could pass through the stones, which era would you travel to and what would you bring with you?

Graham: The Elizabethan period, for me, because I would love to meet Shakespeare, I would love to attend one of the original productions of his plays and I think it is such an interesting time, such a revolutionary time in many ways, the court of Elizabeth (the first).  I think would have been wonderful.

What would I have brought with me…I would bring penicillin, definitely. Medicine.  In all reality, if someone from the 20th century went back to the 18th century, they would probably be dead, be dead within a couple of weeks just from the diseases they would get, that they wouldn’t be immune to, and they’d exposed to stuff I can’t imagine.

Now all these surfaces are cleaned (gestures at the table) constantly, everything is clean, I mean, this would be just filth, but then in some ways, you could argue, that people would develop very strong immune systems.  My mother used to say that that you should eat a peck of dirt before you die.  And a peck – I don’t know if you know a “peck”… it’s a pretty big measurement, and that’s a lot of dirt to eat in a lifetime.  She believed and her parents believed you should eat and have dirt in your diet because it keeps you healthy.

O: You spoke a lot about art last night (at TTS) and Van Gogh. What inspired you to become interested in visual art rather than performing art?

Graham: I always drew and painted, all my life, and it’s something I enjoy doing, enjoy having around me. I find it very therapeutic, but in this specific instance of Vincent, I came across that quite by accident really. My friend and I were looking for a two-man show to perform, and we bumped into a lady at Covent Garden, who was a work colleague of my friend, and she said that she’d seen a Dutch actor perform a one man show, ten years previously, about Vincent Van Gogh. She said it was absolutely fantastic, based on letters. I’d never read any of the letters, I obviously knew who he was, and I don’t know why, I mean normally, under normal circumstances, I would have just gone to the pub after that conversation. This time I went straight to the bookshop and got a copy of those letters, they happened to be there.

Collage image from Google.
Collage image from Google

Sometimes you do think that things are not planned exactly, but they are made a little easier than you would expect.  I’ve gone into a lot of bookshops since and I’ve never seen copies of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters, and there they were, waiting. I got it, read it, it was amazing, and sat down and started writing it.  So many people love Vincent because he represents the quintessential artist, because prior to him, if you were a painter, you made a good living.  You didn’t do it to not make money; you would have patrons, be commissioned, do biblical studies, you had a good life.  The idea of leading an uncompromising artistic existence that flew in the face of popular conceptions of what art should be – it’s unbelievable that so many people would look at what he did and say that it’s rubbish and should literally be thrown away.  Yet he still continued (to paint). I think that speaks to a lot of people and inspires them.

O: It’s a character strength for him, that he would keep going?

Graham: He painted over 600 paintings and sold only one in his entire lifetime.  Everything else [sold after his death], everything else.  I think he would have thought it was amazing, but he expected it.  One of the reasons he signed his paintings “Vincent” was because he believed that one day people would know him by his first name. He totally believed that he would be famous, and he was right.

O: You talked a lot about your father last night, really wonderful stories. Has there been any particular instance during the filming of Outlander that has brought on memories and what would those be?

Graham: Yes, my dad, he is always with me, especially when I’m in Scotland, and playing a character like Dougal.  You know, Dougal is a very Scottish – I know it sounds obvious – but he is a very Scottish man, and there are lots of people like Dougal; plain speaking, which my father was, passionate, loyal, all of those qualities. I often think of him when I’m playing Dougal, and when I was playing Dwalin in “The Hobbit.”  I think there are parallels I could draw between those two characters, not just their accent. A lot of people would look at Dougal and see duplicity and other things, but he wouldn’t see it that way, and I think that’s interesting. I don’t think he sees himself as duplicitous, I think he sees himself as practical, and pragmatic and realistic, and so he acts accordingly and yes, my father is a great inspiration to me. It’s a sadness to me that he never saw this show; he would have really loved it.

O: This question is from Lisa Branford of Outlander Ambassador: You have learned some Gaelic for the show, has that inspired you to learn and become more fluent as part of your great great-great-grandparents’ heritage?

Graham: Yes, yes, it has. It’s something that I would love to learn, because, I guess it’s in my DNA.  When I was doing it with Àdhamh (Gaelic consultant), it does stir something in you, it’s strange.  I was quite surprised at that, actually, you start to hear the sounds that your family would have made for most of the history of my family. Speaking English is a relatively modern part of our history.  To go back to that, where it’s also becoming a lot more fashionable (Gaelic), in Scotland: Gaelic schools, Gaelic bars, Gaelic restaurants, and certainly, when I was in Scotland in the 80s, Gaelic was almost a dead language.  It’s had a huge resurgence.

Thank you Graham for your time, and to the fans who haven’t seen “The Hobbit” – you won’t be disappointed!

Want to learn a little more about topics that interest Graham?  Here are some of my picks:

The Elizabethan Era

Van Gogh Museum/Van Gogh Letters

My recording of Elizabethan era music by The Flying Monkeys, featuring a piccolo and the hurdy gurdy (only a minute long).

Photo is a screenshot taken from a short video by Starz.
Graham McTavish and myself, Spreckels Theatre. Photo is a screenshot taken from a short video by Starz.