Among all of Michel Gondry’s work, “Protection” stands out as his most natural-feeling creation. Its flow is smooth; its story simple. Yet as a one-take, 6.5-minute video, its production was decidedly complex. “I was trying to push further the concept of the one shot video,” Gondry says in RES.
The video is a study of an apartment building and its tenants. It begins (and ends) in the rainy, evening streets of a city. The camera enters the building and follows a man and his daughter in an elevator. From there, the camera ‘breaks’ through the wall, and into a hallway that’s created by a slanted mirror. Here one notices two things: the man and his daughter walking down the hallway, implying a shift in time, and Tracy Thorn (of Everything But the Girl) approaching her door.
Casually the camera flies out of the window, exposing the video’s terra firma: the apartment building. Massive Attack’s beat and atmospherics shimmer as the camera tracks about the building, examining the lives in each window. One of the first residents we happen upon is Thorn, singing amidst the night: “This girl I know needs some shelter / she don’t believe anyone can help her.” Passing over, around, and through the windows, each apartment reveals as much information about the character as their own actions. Most characters are honest. Others mysteriously defy the laws of nature, thanks to the construction of the set.
Upon first glance, the building appears quite tall and quite real. But a few of Gondry’s tricks betray the fact that the structure, instead of being six stories tall, is actually six stories flat. To accomplish the video, the set was constructed on the floor of an expansive soundstage. Tracy Thorn isn’t standing, she’s lying on her back. A few mirrors and a few screen projections were used to produce long hallways and bustling outdoor traffic. Much less noticeable are the removable parts of the building, which allowed the camera to travel between rooms ‘inside’ the building. (With close inspection, you can see the steps move at the very end of the video.)
“Protection” is one of the most relaxing, sedate videos ever made. Yet Gondry’s imagination leaves the senses heightened, even at the end as the car drives along a (rear-projected) boulevard.
“Protection” was referenced in Marc Klasfeld’s one-take video for Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.” –Director-file.com
Pioneering director Michel Gondry’s remarkable creative energy and ability to innovate have resulted in some of the most visually stunning music videos in the history of the medium, and his wild imagination and organic, childlike imagery raised the bar of what one could achieve in the short format. In particular, his technique of placing numerous cameras around a subject and combining the images to form a visually astonishing sweeping effect has become so popular that it has since gone on to achieve timeless notoriety in such films as the The Matrix. With a family background that consists of a number of inventors and technological innovators, Gondry, not surprisingly, is seen as a bottomless wealth of imaginative innovation.
Michel Gondry is a native of Versailles who was raised in a freethinking family that encouraged and supported his creative endeavors; his parents harbored a deep love of pop music and the works of Duke Ellington, in particular. Gondry’s grandfather Constant… read more