Collaboration is a lovely thing. Our dude Michel has a strong grasp on his creativity, and it shines brightly when set to the parameters of a single artist or band. The band in this case is the White Stripes, for whom he has now done three truly excellent, singular videos. I read somewhere, probably in a bio, that Jack White enjoys setting parameters, i.e. using all analog equipment, in order to spark a kind of musical experiment: how to create a great song given x, y, and z?
Michel’s six collaborations with Björk show the versatility of each artist, and how they are eager to travel the paths of creativity in order to find another pot of gold. And his relationship with the White Stripes continues along this same fold. Hear ye! Hear ye! The Hardest Button to Button!
This video follows similar rules to “Around the World” and “Star Guitar,” where each part of the song has a visual counterpart. Here, since this is a band, the concept is more mathematical. From MTV News, Gondry: “When I heard the song, it was so incredible, I knew I had to do the video. It’s the shape of the song that gave me the idea. The pattern, how it goes ‘doot-doot-doot[-doot], doot, doot, doot, doot, doot.’ This makes me think of 1, 2, 3, 4 … 4, 8, 12, 16 … 2, 4, 8, 16, 32.” Thus, when Meg hits a beat her drum kit multiplies, and when Jack plays a lick his amplifier multiplies. Gondry’s producer Julie Fong had to purchase 32 identical Ludwig drum kits, and rent 32 amplifiers and 16 mic stands for the shoot. Everything was erected off-camera and lugged onto the set once a take – sometimes less than one beat – was complete. It must have been laborious, as the shoot required three 16-hour days to complete, all in the daylight.
Gondry and company’s shoot location is also an interesting choice: Harlem, Riverside Park near Grant’s Tomb, and a New York PATH subway platform and train, which they had to take out of commission for a day. Ultimately, the locations were within 200 yards of each other due to the massive amount of gear.
The locations give the absurdity of multiplying instruments a natural feel. Essentially, the music is alive and growing in front of our eyes. A couple other nice touches are added as well: Beck appears clad in a white suit with red flower and a box with something in it. One of the setups resembles a frequency spectrum meter. And the excellent final flourishes: a pinwheel of candy cane-colored instruments, and a 720-degree musical hopscotch.
“’It’s the greatest video we’ve ever made,’” Jack White told MTV News. “‘I think it’s one of the greatest videos ever made. Michel Gondry is so brilliant and such a child at the same time. He’s so perfect and I love the way he works and nobody gets in his way. I can’t stop watching it. I’ve watched it 50 times, probably.’”
The Film and Video Magazine has a story here about the video’s editing. The article gives a good glimpse of how every music video is really a collaboration between lots of people. –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