By Admin | October 25, 2010

“Your girlfriend really is beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

“Did you know she’s a bird?”

Kanye West’s “music video” for his latest single, “Runaway,” doesn’t have very many moments of dialogue in it and I think the above example illustrates why that was a wise decision. No, we’re not turning a new page here at Film Threat and going into the music video criticism business, but Kanye West’s longform video for his latest single “Runaway” is more along the lines of a short film, and therefore worth a closer look. Or maybe I’m wrong, because in the end what makes this short interesting is that I can play it again and again, but not watch it, and get just as much enjoyment, if not more, than I did when I paid attention to the visuals. In that way, from a music marketing standpoint, it’s a brilliant move. Would I sit still for 35 minutes and listen to a random sampler CD of the new Kanye West album? No, I’d probably wait to hear the whole thing when it’s released. Did I essentially sit still for 35 minutes and watch a video that was essentially a sampler of the new album? Yes. You win, Kanye. You got me.

The basic plot of this short, video, whatever is that Kanye is driving through the woods one evening when a comet crashes in front of his car. The comet turns out to be a female Phoenix (Selita Ebanks) fallen to Earth, and the two form a relationship that isn’t really destined to survive. Cue quoted dialogue above, and you get the idea of how Kanye’s friends welcome his new relationship.

While you get the feeling that Kanye is trying his best to pull a Fellini, the movie more closely resembled, for me, Lars Von Trier’s “AntiChrist” (though in Kanye’s world, everything is bleached colors as opposed to Von Trier’s grays and blues) with a bit of Michael Bay (slow motion fire and explosions). And while Kanye went the Phoenix route, if you really want an art film to ponder about a fallen goddess and a worldly man, check out Luc Besson’s “Angel-A.” All that said, it is interesting to see these cinematic influences put together and then interpreted by Kanye West. Sure, it borders on being a pretentious mess (and I’m sure many have already called it such), and it’s not something you watch over and over again (as I said above, you may listen to it over and over again), but it does have that refreshing flavor of seeing the world of art and experimental cinema through not-so-cinematic eyes. In that way, the film’s imitation becomes a larger criticism of the stereotypes and clichés of that genre.

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  1. Levi Bailey says:

    I Googled “Kanye West Runaway Trier Antichrist” after watching the video, frustrated about seeing so many similarities and hoping someone called it out, and I found this article. Nice to know I’m not totally crazy. The scenes in the woods, the deer, specifically, are peeled directly out of “Antichrist”. I also saw shades of Salo when they were sitting at the table, and the whole piece owes something to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, as well, I think. I found the effects at the end when she was rising and flying to be criminally cheesy compared to the rest of the visuals, as well, and was kind of bummed out by that. If you’re familiar with all the things this video borrowed from, it’s easy to feel you’re better off just enjoying those. It’s nice that he’s trying, but it was severely lacking in spots, and just relied way too heavily on its obvious influences.

  2. Mr. Leo says:

    Its not “art” Kayne. It’s just a long-a*s music video with very little merit.

  3. David Clardy says:

    I agree with Arthur, mediocre talent/good cinematographer! I’m not willing to wreck my ears with Kanye’s BS just to see good visuals. Plus, anything connected with him at all is just infectious with mediocrity, period. I shouldn’t even dignify it with a comment. It’s like encouragement, yuck.

  4. Whoever is telling this guy he’s a genius should stop. This is what happens when mediocre talent can afford a good cinematographer. If I detected some intentional irony going on here, I might have a little more mercy. This film is more about color correction than music or a story. This IS music marketing, plain and simple, I just don’t think any one gave Kanye that memo. He thinks this is art!
    I do believe that George Bush does not care about black people, though.

  5. sideshowraheem says:

    I think that write up sums it up perfectly. Although the story does come off a somewhat pretentious I really liked the visuals and since I’m a fan of Kanye the musician I loved the music which I think could be some of the best he’s ever made. Whether you like the movie or not it is a brilliant marketing move in a day an age where it really hard to sell records this gives his album tons of hype….and its already shot up to the top 10 on iTunes off of just pre-orders so I guess mission accomplished.

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