Sunday, 2 August 2009

Rabbit Heart

This is a gift / it comes with a price / Who is the lamb and who is the knife? / Midas is king and he holds me so tight / And turns me to gold in the sunlight...

By far the best music video I've seen this year, Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up by Florence and the Machine sidesteps the current video trend of 1980s style minimalism as filtered through a post-millennium sense of misplaced nostalgia, and instead goes for the more immediate figures in a frame style explosion of artistic revelry that plays like a miniature narrative. Instead of the emphasis on the conceptual element, of lines, shapes, colours and contrasts that we've seen in recent videos by Calvin Harris, Hot Chip, Ladyhawke, The Ting Tings and La Roux (the majority of which have started to look like photo shoots for PIG or i-D magazine), Rabbit Heart is a magic hour happening that transforms itself midway through into a funeral dirge; expressing the lyrical references to sacrificial offerings (Raise it Up) and the bravery of the lion-hearted girl who, willing to make the final step (rushing towards the skyline), throws herself at the rushing waters that run from blue to red.

Such emotive lyrical concerns, sung so convincingly that one almost forgets that this is a major label release, are expressed through the glowing, pastoral imagery - of a river lit by candles, or a banquet that recalls the forest gathering of Jan Němec's The Party and the Guests (O slavnosti a hostec, 1966) by way of the frolicking, celebratory scenes that feature towards the end of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Valerie a týden divů, 1970) or The Wicker Man (1973) - in which the seesawing between ecstasy and agony transforms the murder into a celebration of death.

Of course, I'd generally be sold on any video in which a gorgeous redhead, kissed by the evening sun and dressed in a billowing gown, parades herself amongst a vibrant commune of decadent revellers while recasting some of the magic found in Édouard Manet's classic scene of riverbank self-indulgence Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Lunch on the Grass, 1862-1863), but even so, this video is impressive; and in three minutes and thirty-eight seconds manages to make us forget that these things are more often promotional tools created for no other reason than to shift units, instead showing us something that transcends time, trends, and everything in-between.

Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) directed by Tom Beard & Tabitha Denholm, 2009:

The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet, 1863: