Video Review: Natalie Merchant “Kind and Generous”

Filmed through a grainy filter, Natalie Merchant, wearing all red, stands on a platform. Laundry hangs outside a cabin. An acrobat practices backflips. A sparkling woman, dressed in armor, walks on the field. The unicyclist smiles as he rides. The strong men practice on pieces of wood.

Merchant, sitting on a white stallion, poses with her arm. A little girl runs towards her and she gives her a hug. She pets the horse. The cojoined twins, wearing a wedding dress, smile. The magician tips his hat and smirks. The sparkling woman in armor disappears. The cojoined twins look up at the sky.

She dances inside a cannon. The circus acts skip in a single file line by the cabins. Clowns practice juggling bottles. The fire breathers rehearse in the tent. Wearing a white, curly wig, she holds her dog as she looks out the window. Wearing a white suit, she walks around the field. A clown chases a man dressed as a creature around.

She, the magician and two other performers, drink tea while they eat lunch. In the white suit, she carries a baton and pets a dog who runs to her. A clown walks on stilts. The contortionist bends her legs and balances herself on a chair.

She swings from the trapeze. She waves from the cannon and gets inside it.

Rating: 4/5

Natalie Merchant sends a picture of her husband (the magician) and daughter to her family. In her letter, she tells them she’ll be in town in a few weeks and encloses the check. Without her steady paycheck, her family would be destitute. Growing up, she helped her family on the farm. She milked the cows and picked fruit from the bushes.

At about eight years old, she was dancing in a diner as her father made a delivery to a diner. The owner of circus took her father aside and asked him if he would allow her to join. Her mom and dad discussed it in hush tones. They broke the news to her in the morning a week later.  She cried all day, saying she didn’t want to leave them.

However, she found a new family with the circus performers. They made sure she ate her vegetables and let her contact her parents when she missed them. A little boy became her best friend. After practice, they played in the field. His father was a magician and taught him tricks between shows. Once they became teenagers, their friendship turned to love. They married and had a child of their own.

She was the star of the circus. In their letters, they stated how proud they were and sent her clippings from the newspaper. They thanked her for helping them out and said she saved their farm. She was welcome home at any time. Although she missed her biological family, she couldn’t imagine returning to the farm.

Directors: Mark Seliger & Fred Woodward Year: 1998

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Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit , Greatest City Collective & 45 Magazine and forthcoming in Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kristofia anthology.

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