Hello strangers. I've been obsessing over this music video for a while now, and thought it worth mentioning here.
There are just so many things going on.
The video has an arresting Twin Peaks vibe, with the menacing father figure, the forest and the childlike-but-not-really young woman. The gestures towards Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel really build the sense of threatened innocence, while also shifting the scenario further into the realms of the surreal and fantastic.
For me the switching of the young woman with other, older figures evokes Mikhail Bakhtin's "hags" - the most well known example of his concept of the female grotesque:
"In the famous Kerch terracotta collection we find figurines of senile pregnant hags. Moreover, the old hags are laughing. This is a typical and very strongly expressed grotesque. It is ambivalent. It is pregnant death, a death that gives birth. There is nothing completed, nothing calm and stable in the bodies of these old hags. They combine a senile, decaying and deformed flesh with the flesh of new life, conceived but as yet unformed. Life is shown in its two-fold contradictory process; it is the epitome of incompleteness. And such is precisely the grotesque concept of the body" (Rabelais and His World. Trans. Helene Iswolsky. Indiana University Press, 1984, pp.25-6).
The passage doesn't entirely suit the video, but those manic faces (and the dead/living girl) keep reminding me of his argument here. Whatever you think of Bakhtin and his opinions, he knows how to generate a strong image.
All that said, it stupidly took me a few more views to realise why this video grabbed me so firmly. The more I watch, the more it reminds me of one of my favourite thrillers: Don't Look Now (1973). There are some very explicit references to the film in the music video, explicit enough for me to think it is a deliberate homage.
If you haven't seen it, and you enjoy Gothic mysteries and Donald Sutherland, I highly recommend this film. (Yes, there is a famously graphic love scene that pops up - so to speak - in the middle of the story, but we can fast-forward that, can't we? Or not, I'm not judging you.)
The trailer isn't super great, but at least it doesn't give the whole thing away like most do these days. (If you are interested in watching Don't Look Now, I would suggest NOT reading reviews/comments or Googling it - once spoiled can never be unspoiled!)
Finally, the scene with the grasping hands reminded me of a much more recent video; one with rather different, yet equally Gothic, connotations. In Dev's 'In the Dark' the red hands, with their suggestions of sexuality and violence, are replaced by black hands:
Some eerie imagery in this one. The play on exoticism, monstrosity, blackness and whiteness is all a bit unsettling, especially when the white singer is walking through a sea of raised black hands (claws/paws?).
Interesting. Disturbing. I guess that's what they were going for?