Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Things Fall Apart: The Aliens "Setting Sun"

The Aliens' new video is a near-perfectly composed piece of storytelling with a surprisingly uplifting ending...

The Aliens "Setting Sun"

dir. by John Maclean

When this smashing new video begins, it looks like our hero is in a real hurry to move out and leave the country. He throws a passport, a worn photo-frame, and a nice suit into a bag - Requiem For a Dream-style. He pauses to scan some photographs in his drawer and then another one of a girl taped to his mirror, but things are edited together so brilliantly quick that we get little sense of what these initial images might even mean. If anything we are probably still expecting a chase scene of some sorts when he turns off the lights and shuts his doors.

But then the sharply dressed man abruptly throws everything into a dumpster. The shots slow down a little bit after that, and he gets into his car and pulls away. Now it seems clear that the locking of the multiple doors leading to his abode where meant to keep something out, as much as they where a symbol of releasing something from inside. This is a road trip of anger and overcoming, but it's also one of regret and nostalgia.

The quickness of the pace is nearly perfect in representing the torrent of emotions that follows an event like this. It's not only the fact that he has painfully witnessed his lover in the hands of another, but the simple fact that a part of his life has been suddenly shifted completely. But we wouldn't necessarily understand the somewhat irrational behavior of this guy if it weren't for the rapid-fire cutting - which approximates the heart-racing tension that he is feeling.

The details of the inciting incident are given through painful flashbacks of first happiness, and then conflict. It seems as if everything reminds him of her, and so he begins throwing objects out into the open in an effort to completely bury the memory. But some things you can't rid yourself of so easily. Like the way he looked at the "heart" on a playing card and thought of her, or spending a lazy afternoon reading dirty romance novels in the bathtub together. The frustration of this fact leads him to eventually throw away the car keys themselves, leaving his red classic in the middle of nowhere.

And that's pretty much where this guy seems to be at this point, both emotionally and literally. Yet we know that he has been here before, he has enjoyed this place with her in the past. As the song says, she has led him here, to this despair - but also to this memory. It is perhaps his fondest memory of the relationship. He jumps into the river and emerges soaked in his red shirt. As he sits drying of in the still shining sun (not yet sunk), he remembers sharing a red towel with her. In many ways he let her into his heart, and so he feels incomplete. But the director associates the two images of red to also imply an undeniable completeness in the individual. No relationship completely destroys anyone. And so he calmly walks back down the hill, ready to face things again.

No comments:

Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie