The Work of Director Michel Gondry
Disorienting and kaleidoscopic; visually perplexing. The work of French music video/commercial/film director Michel Gondry is a sprawling collection of music videos, commercials, early short films, and a 75-minute-long documentary called I’ve been Twelve Forever. The documentary traces Gondry’s artistic development from his earliest childhood video and animation experiments, to sophomore work making music videos for the French band Oui Oui, (for which he was also the drummer) to his most recent virtuosic music video direction for artists ranging from Bjork to The Chemical Brothers to Kylie Minogue to the White Stripes.
Gondry’s visual landscapes are mind-bogglingly layered. For your consideration, the video for Bjork’s ‘Hyperballad’ places Bjork’s head into a miniature set-piece of futuristic mountains and blinking lights, then juxtaposes a projected image of Bjork’s face onto her original human face, singing Hyperballad while the camera moves around her monumental head like a police helicopter.
What permeates the work is a symbiotic connection between sound and image. Despite their obsessive intricacy and technical wizardry, Gondry’s videos are never overdone. They come off with an exuberance always suiting to the sound and style of the musician he is interpreting. If the music is Chemical Brothers, the vision is based in repetition; if the music is White Stripes, you see simplistic energy. In all of these videos and clips there is a desire to morph, to transform mundane places and objects, to make them dance an otherworldly dance.
The amount of information that can be stuffed into a double-sided DVD (and this is a double-sided DVD) is impressive. You cannot watch everything on the disc in one sitting, but you’ll want to, and when you do, your eyes will puke and your brain will collapse. Better do this: watch Side A, take a fun run, watch half of Side B, take a nap, reflect on the short film of Jim Carrey driving a car-bed down the highway in his pajamas, then maybe try and fit in the rest. By the end, you’ll be giddy.
The Work of Director Michel Gondry DVD is a goodie. It is an instant conversation piece, and its contents create turbo-hip audio/visual background fodder when projected onto a wall, and like the other installments in the Palm Pictures Directors series, the DVD comes with a fat, richly illustrated booklet of short stories, sketches, photographs, and other paraphernalia to distract you from stark reality.