By Christopher Zinsli | June 17, 2004

Every so often a film comes along that is so brilliant yet so simple in its conception, it makes you slap your forehead and say, “Why didn’t I come up with that?!?”

“The Stairway at St. Paul’s” is one of those films. Director Jeroen Offerman spent months in preparation for this short video, learning how to sing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” backwards. That’s right, backwards! He videotaped himself performing the song in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral and then reversed the footage, matching it with a sans-vox track.

The result is the best karaoke rendition of the classic song you’ll probably ever hear or see. Offerman’s performance is hammy and hilarious. He plays air drums and guitar during instrumental breaks. He over-gesticulates lines like “And if you listen very hard” by placing a hand to his ear, and “When I look to the west” by gazing off screen like a lookout in a crow’s nest.

Meanwhile, the pedestrians passing behind Offerman offer yet another layer of humor, staring at the strange man singing unintelligibly as they walk by in reverse. Offerman even looks around at one point to see if anyone is watching right before (or should I say, after) he reaches a particularly high-pitched moment in the song.

Part giddy performance piece, part temporal experiment, “The Stairway at St. Paul’s” has screened at several festivals and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Drive cross-country, harass festival programmers, but do whatever it takes to see this video.

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