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SOUND VISIONS – 50 Best Ever Music Videos: ‘All Is Full Of Love’

March 21, 2013

“Rock videos are no different than music, or movies, or anything else – eighty-five percent of it is crap, and if it weren’t, then you’d never know about the fifteen percent that’s good.” Keith Richards – The Rolling Stones

In the mid nineteen-eighties, music video clip makers Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton were given the opportunity to create a television show whose sole purpose     it was to showcase the very best music videos in circulation up to that point. It was called The Max Headroom Video Show. It was a show unconstrained by what music was popular at the time, and the creators had virtually carte blanche to select videos based purely on their artistic merit alone. It was an eclectic mix to say the least – and a real inspiration for me in my own clips. It was also partly the inspiration behind putting together this particular series.

Sound Visions is a series of posts in which I bring to light particular music videos which have inspired me or which I consider to be the very best examples of the form. So what exactly makes a good video? First and foremost, a good video must compliment the tone of the song and not detract from it. A good video must not literalize what is described in the lyrics of the song, or – in other words, we must never see a word-for-word visual representation of what the lyrics are actually saying. And last but not least, the use of visual metaphors is fine and should be encouraged.

Music videos can be categorized into three distinct types: abstract, narrative and performance. Performance, naturally, means we see a band or musician performing without (or very little) additional visual imagery. Narrative refers to what renown rock video pioneer Russell Mulcahy termed as mini-movies: videos which employ actors (or indeed the musicians themselves) to enact a storyline which unfolds in either       a linear or non-linear fashion. And finally, we have abstract. Abstract videos are perhaps the most intriguing and challenging to make, as they tend to rely more on   the imagination and visual aesthetic of the clip maker themselves. Naturally, as with any genre, the lines can become blurred and clips can indeed possess attributes of two or more of these categories. However, for symplicity’s sake, I’ll be referring to just these three.

At their most inane, videos are nothing more than visual wallpaper – a marketing tool used in the service of promoting mindless pop songs to the consumer. At their best, and most sublime, they can indeed be seen as a legitimate artform – just like any other.

This week –

‘All Is Full Of Love’ by Bjork

Type: Abstract

Year: 1998

Director: Chris Cunningham

Running Time: 4 mins 9 secs

bjork-all is full of love

Girl robots making out – what’s not to like?

Although he has only made a handful of music videos, there is no doubting the genius of Chris Cunningham. A movie special effects artist by trade, Cunningham cut his teeth creating robotics for Richard Stanley’s Hardware, followed by stints on Nightbreed and Alien 3, before spending a year or more working with Stanley Kubrick on developing an animatronic robot boy David for Kubrick’s aborted movie A.I. (a film ultimately directed by Steven Spielberg – with a real actor playing David).

There has been much speculation over the years on whether or not Cunningham had input into the design of the robots which ultimately appeared in the completed film. In the booklet which accompanies the 2004 dvd compilation of his videos, Cunningham reveals he wasn’t privy to other design work during his time with Kubrick – as his sole concern was devising the animatronics for the David puppet. It seems more likely Spielberg was influenced by Cunningham’s video – or perhaps it was just a sheer coincidence there are similarities between the two. Whichever the case, there is no denying the technical perfection and seamless beauty of this remarkable video.

all is full of love - two robots kissing

Sometimes musicians have a very clear idea of the imagery they’d like to see included in a video, but most times they do not. Bjork’s only concern with this particular clip was that it be primarily white. Combining elements from the slick     soft-lit precision of high-end luxury car commercials with Kubrick-style austerity from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the sensuality of Japanese sexy robot art, this video truly is one of a kind.

And you can be rest assured, this won’t be the last of Cunningham’s work to be featured in this series.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos    and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies.

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