01 July 2011

Top 3: Michel Gondry Music Videos

{ Michel Gondry can even solve a Rubik's Cube with his feet*. }

So, can Michel Gondry just direct every single music video?

Gondry probably achieved mainstream popularity in 2004 when he directed the beautiful and surreal film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind but he has been directing music videos since the late-80s.

After directing a ton of music videos by French artists, he got to directing videos by Lenny Kravitz, Bjork, Black Crowes, Massive Attack, The Rolling Stones, etc. etc. There is an incredibly long list of amazing videos he has directed.

So amazing that bands like The White Stripes, Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, Bjork and Beck have commissioned multiple music videos from the French filmmaker.

It seems to me that the late-90s and the early-00s is where Gondry really started hitting his stride with some of the most iconic music videos in recent memory and started cementing a unique style that I enjoy in all his music videos.

Check out videos like "Army of Me" by Bjork in 1993, "Everlong" for Foo Fighters in 1997, the hit-parade-nostalgia video for Stardust ("Music Sounds Better With You") in 1998, and, of course, that Lego video in 2002 for The White Stripes.

You can see a distinctive style in videos like "Human Behavior" by Bjork (1993), Massive Attack's beautiful 1995 release "Protection" and Radiohead's "Knives Out" (2001).

But it's the dreamy, circular, repetitive, right-on-beat, highly choreographed videos (like "Let Forever Be" by The Chemicals Brothers or "Around The World" by Daft Punk) that I enjoy the most. Here are my Top 3 Michel Gondry music videos:

3. The White Stripes - "The Hardest Button To Button" (2003)

How did Gondry do this?
On every beat, a new drum materializes just ahead of her and she instantly appears behind it to play that beat, leaving all the previous drums vacant. This effect was achieved by first setting up a trail of bass drums. Then, Meg would be filmed performing a single beat on the last drum in the line, which would then be removed; she would move back one drum, play another beat, and so on.

2. Kylie Minogue - "Come Into My World" (2002)

What's better than one Kylie? Five Kylie Minogues.
It took over fifteen takes to create the desired effect. Fifteen days were required for the video's special effects.
The re-watchability of this video is at 115%.

1. The Chemical Brothers - "Star Guitar" (2001)

First off, this is a highly underrated Chemical Brothers song. Second, watch the video and then watch it again. And then again.

See what Gondry did there?

All of passing buildings and objects in the video are exactly in time with the beats and synths of the song. The result? An absolutely mesmerizing video.
The video is based on DV footage Gondry shot while on vacation in France; the train ride between Nîmes and Valence was shot ten different times during the day to get different light gradients. ... Gondry actually plotted out the synchronization of the song on graph paper before creating the video, eventually "modelling" the scenery with oranges, forks, tapes, books, glasses and tennis shoes.

What are your favorite Gondry music videos?

{ Get best of Gondry's videos plus music videos by Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham. }

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* Okay, many of you probably know it's fake. This guy explains how.