Saturday, July 07, 2007


R.E.M.'s "Imitation of Life"

A series of unconnected thoughts collided in my head last night to remind me of the video for R.E.M.'s "Imitation of Life," which I've not seen in several years. YouTube to the rescue.

Here's a snippet from the (unsourced) Wikipedia entry on the subject.
The single's video, depicting a scene of an elaborate pool party, was shot in Los Angeles by Garth Jennings. Michael Stipe, in an interview with MTV UK in 2001, explained how the video was made. "The entire video took twenty seconds to shoot. What you're watching is a loop that goes forwards for twenty seconds, backwards for twenty seconds, forwards for twenty seconds, backwards for twenty seconds [Mills, sitting on Stipe's right, sways left to right accordingly as the frontman illustrates his point], with one camera, static, and then using a technique called 'pan and scan', which is a technical thing that is used when they go from a widescreen format and reformat to fit your television or DVD, moving in on certain parts of the entire picture. And you'll see that we do that picking up various people within the frame."
This thing has always reminded me of something like "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke" or the work of Hieronymus Bosch, crowded with detail that only becomes apparent on repeat viewing or closer examination, but instead of the viewer looking closer or again, the camera does the work for you, panning in on different elements of interest as the thing goes along.

And if this was really done in one 20 second take, I shudder to think how many takes that was before they got this one in the can. Yikes!

I was a bit surprised to see that Jennings had directed this--and that on a bit of examination he turned out to have directed a few other videos I dig--since otherwise I only knew him as the director of the recent Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy flick, which was considerably less impressive. Maybe there were other factors at work there, or else Jennings is better suited for the short form.

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