Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hand-Me-Down: Death Cab for Cutie "Cath"

Speak now, or...

Death Cab for Cutie "Cath"

dir. by Autumn De Wilde

" seems you live in someone else's dream..."

That's the line lead singer Ben Gibbard sings half-way through "Cath," just as director Autumn De Wilde superimposes an image of the protagonist bride over the faces of the band members. In truth, she is exactly that; a dream, a figment of their imagination, a story carved out by Gibbard, envisioned by De Wilde and given further depth by the music of the band. And as the last lines of the song imply, this story is less about a woman turning her back on the possibilities of her own life, and more about the "safe" decisions we all make, everyday.

Yet Cath exists in a different sort of dream as well, beyond that of the artist's who created her. Dressed in purity, in a beautiful church (De Wilde emphasizes the cross a number of times) and with a picture-perfect white American crowd (and fiance), she is fulfilling the ideal which has been handed down through generations of women. She looks forward to a cookie-cut life, a flowery backyard and a "well-intentioned" man, and she walks away from the scruffy-haired potential of the world beyond that picket fence.

She decides, just as millions of people do each day, to take the beaten path - the sure thing. And who can blame her? As Gibbard says, "I'd have done the same as you." Yet the look in her eyes, the crooked smile she holds, defies the beauty and happiness this moment is supposed to elicit, and we know she is looking in that rear view mirror, towards the church door that is just closing. The realism of the video, matched with the tone of the song, is what makes it such a devastating scene.

But there is also the young man in the room, the one with just enough unkemptness to be likable, who doesn't run up to the altar and kiss the bride - as she so romantically envisions. Even if she has decided to reject that moment in her head, the most frustrating fact is that he doesn't even try. He is left outside, on the grass, with the rest of us who've ever let a moment like that pass us by.

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