The Music Video Art of Michel Gondry: Post-Jungian Film Theory Perspectives

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  • 1. Post-Jungian Film Theory Michel Gondryby Peter Miltz ncls@iup.edu

2. Bjork Homogenic is the fourth studio album by Icelandic musician Bjrk, released in September 1997. The music of Homogenic was a new style for Bjrk, focusing on similar sounding music combining electronic beats and string instruments with songs in tribute to her native country Iceland. Five singles were released from Homogenic: "Jga", "Bachelorette", "Hunter", "Alarm Call" and "All Is Full of Love". Homogenic was highly acclaimed on its initial release and continues to be praised by critics, with Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine stating that "if not the greatest electronic album of all time, it's certainly the greatest of its decade". 3. Bachelorette Bjrk wanted Homogenic to have a conceptual focus on her native Iceland. Producer Markus Dravs recalled Bjrk wanting it to sound like "rough volcanoes with soft moss growing all over it... Bjrk explained that "in Iceland, everything revolves around nature, 24 hours a day. Earthquakes, snowstorms, rain, ice, volcanic eruptions, geysers... Very elementary and uncontrollable. "Bachelorette" was originally written for director Bernardo Bertolucci for his film Stealing Beauty. Bjrk later faxed Bertolucci, informing him the song would be used for her album instead. "Bachelorette" was written with Icelandic poet Sjn, because Bjrk wanted to use epic lyrics. A music video for "Jga" directed by Michel Gondry was filmed in the middle of 1997 and was the first single for the album. "Bachelorette" was released in December 1997 with another music video directed by Gondry. 4. Bachelorette (cont.) Because I wanted the lyrics to be so epic, I got my friend Sjn - who's a poet in Iceland - to write them. We sat together at the kitchen table and drank a lot of red wine and I told him the whole story for hours and days and he wrote the words from that story. The song is emotionally charged and theatrical, following the album's theme of "beats and strings", but also includes other instruments like timbales, timpani, Alp horn, accordion, etc., that make the song stronger and more dramatic. Bjrk herself describes the song's story as "Isobel goes to the city. Part of Song Cycle: "Isobel (1995) "Bachelorette (1997) "Alarm Call (1998) 5. Bjork Bachelorette - Lyrics I'm a fountain of blood In the shape of a girl You're the bird on the brim Hypnotized by the whirl Drink me, make me feel real Wet your beak in the stream The game we're playing is life Love is a two way dream Leave me now, return tonight The tide will show you the way If you forget my name, you will go astray Like a killer whale trapped in a bay 6. Bjork Bachelorette - Lyrics I'm a path of cinders Burning under your feet You're the one who walks me I'm your one way street I'm a whisper in water A secret for you to hear You are the one who grows distant When I beckon you near Leave me now, return tonight The tide will show you the way If you forget my name, you will go astray Like a killer whale trapped in a bay 7. Bjork Bachelorette - LyricsI'm a tree that grows hearts One for each that you take You're the intruders hand I'm the branch that you break 8. Gondry Michel Gondry's music video for "Bachelorette" was nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the 1999 Grammy Awards, but lost to Jonas kerlund's video for the Madonna song "Ray of Light". As Gondry describes it, "this character is leaving the forest and she decides to go to the city to have a normal life. She tries her best and it doesn't work out and she comes back to the forest and she is happier there. The video was based on an original idea by Bjrk, who saw "Bachelorette" as a continuation of the character portrayed in "Isobel" and "Human Behaviour". All three song lyrics were written by Bjrk's longstanding co-writer Sjn. 9. Synchronicity Greg Singh Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related, conceived in Jungian theory as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. 10. Pleroma 1: plenitude: a : the fullness of divine excellencies and powers b : the fullness of being of the divine life held in Gnosticism to comprise the aeons as well as the uncreated monad or dyad from which they have proceeded Etymology: LL, fullness, fr. Gk plrma that which fills, fr. plroun to make full, fr. plrs full 2013 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated 11. Archetype of the Self 12. Post-Jungian Film Concepts Syzygy a conjunction in the opposition of the sexes characterizing many images of the unified self constituting deep identification with the Self (this is an element of our archetypal past) (Singh 147) Contrasexuality those aspects of the personality that most typify ones gender opposite (Singh 127) We access the Self through the film experience Expressions go beyond filmmakers choices; filmmakers cannot control expressions. Expression is a two way street, both the camera and the individual perceive; both the film and the individual express 13. Post-Jungian Film Concepts (cont.) Shots relate to other shots, NOT to the audience Realist elements are causes and effects that exist within the world of the film Formalist elements are causes and effects that come from outside the world of the film Realism is what the viewer of the film thinks, feels, or physically reacts to Formalism is what elements form the film Singh wants to bring realism and formalism together 14. Post-Jungian Film Concepts (cont.) Essential self and prior value of self primary and a priori (at the beginning of a film, I am an ideal self-constructing an identity through, and only through, the film Being-in-the-world isa fundamentally intersubjective and mediated state of existence, affectively responding to the here and now, while also negotiating the emotional impact of historical and social being. so cinema does not simply stand in for a particular reality...we take it that wayit doesnt prerecord reality; it creates its own realityit will always have gaps until we can insert our own point of viewfilm does not merely reflect pre-existing ideology (Singh 54-67) 15. The Circle as a Symbol of the Film Dr. Slater Here, the indefinable realm consists of those intangible aspects of the film, e.g. in Vertigo, examples would be the scene in the McKittrick Hotel and the luminescence that appears behind Kim Novak. The middle realm here is made up of each individual viewers readings of the film The upper realm consists of the filmmakers intentions. 16. The Circle as a Symbol of the World Dr. Slater Here, the indefinable realm is analogous to the mirror stage of the self, but is made up of Jungs natural archetypes. Here, the middle realm consists of institutions, laws, and symbols. The upper realm is physical reality, which also includes symbols. The World is the basis of our nature, of who we are and from which our lives proceed. 17. The Circle as a Symbol of the Self Dr. Slater Mirror stage (indefinable stage) is prior to the symbolic stage. Here the infant exists prior to the development of the concept on other; the infant is unable to distinguish itself from the environment (this world is both dangerous and enlightening). The infants body is what contains them and they recognize that image in the mirror as the ideal self. Patriarchal structures exist in the world that the infant enters following the mirror stage. The western cultural paradigm is patriarchal, focused on achievement, competition, and be all you can be. Also, the western cultural view of the progress of time is linear. The symbolic realm which is dominated by patriarchal structures in Western culture contains strong elements of discipline, regulation, and other constructs of this kind. Being unable to define oneself according to the symbols around us leads to either genius or psychosis. 18. Gondrys Approach to Making Music Videos Gondry now works in mainstream feature and owe much to his origins as a short filmmaker. (Singh 193) His work feeds off avant-garde techniques and idiosyncratic concerns with repetition and the human mind, and a preoccupation with visual illusion and narrative trickery. (Singh 193) The result of these concerns is that his work often comes close to representing synchronistic phenomena such as doubling, acausality, and incidence/coincidence, perhaps more than any other director working in popular film today. (Singh 193) Gondry uses impact aesthetics, an approach where narrative in its most conventional sense is less important than promotion of the product. (Singh 193) 19. Gondrys Approach to Making Music Videos (cont.) In the shot it doesnt look like there was a trick, but there was a trick. (Spike Jonez) These simple visual devices have their roots in the earliest cinema: the audience is drawn into a fascination or astonishment via the spectacle of having been tricked. This realization is, once again, a largely retrospective phenomenon, becoming fully conscious and realized through the audiences awareness of the trickery. One might argue, in fact, that it does not matter whether the audience knows the secret of the trick or not it is the perception that they have been tricked that is uncomfortable or pleasurable, and therefore spectacular. (Singh 196) Gondry takes contemporary filmmaking back to its origins, stripping off the somewhat unnecessary accoutrements of stardom and commerciality, while simultaneously pushing the medium to its extreme, going beyond what has gone before. His filmmaking and video art point to a future in which subversive humour, carnivalesque attention to detail, and careful visualization of meaningful relation between subjects, objects, and the world have a place. (Singh 196) 20. Gondry in His Own