ResFest looms once again – along with OneDotZero this is a key event in the medium of artistic digital film, primarily showcasing cutting edge film-making, animation and effects. Needless to say I will be there at the NFT when it happens, glued to my seat drooling over Shynola’s gorgeous work and similar.
Res the magazine provides a DVD every issue featuring short films, music videos, tracks and whatever extras they can muster. On the latest disc I was surprised to find a new video for Michael Andrews ft Gary Jules ‘Mad World’ directed by one Mr M Gondry…
Even before it starts you know it’s going to better than the terrible (tho perhaps appropriate) video that accompanied the song’s release last Christmas…and yes it is.
Why have Universal chosen to commission a new video for this song? Perhaps the popularity of the track lingers in some quarters of the world previously unexposed to the dreariest Christmas number one ever? And why choose Gondry? I can only assume they share the view that the original video was dire and it would be nice to have something a bit more stylish to go with one of the best selling songs of the decade so far (at least in the UK).
We are in a city, on a building roof. By we I mean the camera, looking down onto the street where a collection of children are starting to form shapes. They form a face…it’s all a bit British Airways isn’t it? Reminiscent of his classic clip for Massive Attack’s ‘Protection’ too. The kids assume other forms together, a car, a dove, a dog with disturbingly thin legs…occasionally the camera (us) pans slowly (in Gondry’s typical haunting ‘uncertain/mesmerised’ style) to the left where we see Mr Jules himself, still wearing that darned flat cap, looking down on the kids just as we are. Cars trundle by on the road, the skies are a cool grey with a low yellowish hue in the distance – hard to tell if it’s morning or evening. It looks cold but it probably isn’t. Eventually the camera shifts right and around and we see Mr Andrews (presumably) at the piano, his back turned to us, with the Empire State Building perfectly poised and majestic as ever in the distance. Ah…
A chaste affair but ordinary by his standards perhaps. Still what’s admirable here is the obedience in applying an organic theme to an organically rendered song – the use of people, rather than computer effects, to pull off the usual Gondry hallmarks of transformation, mirrors without smoke, the clockwork behind the clockwork, or just a really neat idea so simple anyone could conceive it, especially for something as supposedly trivial and throwaway as a music video. But still nobody conceives of it quite like Gondry does. It doesn’t quite save a poor cover from poverty but it does provide it with a much more comfortable bed to sleep in.