May 9th, 2008

homesick blues

#5: "Trouble," Coldplay

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Rank: 5
Artist: Coldplay
Title: Trouble
Director: Tim Hope
Year: 2001

Here it is: the most heartbreakingly beautiful video ever made. I've mentioned director Tim Hope in this journal before, when I called him "something of a one trick pony, but oh, what a trick it is." This was the point at which everything fell together: the song was right, the mood was right, the visuals were right, the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars. The problem with computer-based animation and composition (of the 2-D variety) is that you run the risk of sterility, of having your finished work seem distant and cold. Granted, this can work in your favor, depending, but if the music you're working with is gray and moody, you're left with a disconnect that can be rather off-putting. Not so with "Trouble." Going through the clip again while trying to pick out a single frame to use for a screenshot (which wasn't easy, believe you me), I was struck by how alive this video is. It's certainly surreal—not just overt stuff like the woman watering the flower patch in the middle of her living room floor, but also things on the design level, like the cockeyed shape of birds and animals. But instead of just making a surreal video, Hope created a surreal world, and just happened to set the video in its environment. Everything works together to shape the universe on the screen, down to the smallest details: the insects among the flowers, the rows of houses in the background, the pollen that flutters anywhere and everywhere. There is so, so much going on here, but it never seems cluttered or overdone; instead, it comes off as a recognition of how many layers there are in any world, even ours. There are moments so breathtaking I almost literally want to stop breathing, like that view across the plains toward the millhouse atop that absurd mountain. It's all so beautiful that when it all starts to crumble before our eyes no less breathtakingly (watch that shot of the flock of birds raining fire in silhouette as they fly past the mountains), we can't bear to see it go. Most importantly, even though I'm not a Coldplay fan by any stretch, I can't imagine a better song to fit these visuals, or a better video to fit that song. (For the record, this is actually the second video filmed for "Trouble," but the only one released in the U.S.) Tim Hope has only made a handful of videos since, including ones for "My Culture" by 1 Giant Leap [q.v.] and "Bad Day" by R.E.M., but every one of them in its own way has startled and amazed me. Here's hoping we hear from him again soon.