Verlaines “Tremble”

According to Wikipedia, Graeme Downes co-wrote this song with Robert Smith of the Cure. Yeah, I’ll buy that. That song has a great pop sound and does all sorts of clever musical things. But, hey, I’m here for the video.

It’s set in an unusual world, the sort of crazy place that only appears in music videos. A bird cage rotates. A grey-eyed woman gazes at the camera. A tiny figurine of Cinderella and Prince Charming dances around a table top. Ventriloquist’s dummies stare. But being as emerged in the symbol-laden world of music videos as I am, this kind of world feels pretty normal.

But my favourite video star is the elegantly dressed woman who runs into the arms of her sweetie and we discover he has a totally bandaged head. Unable to really look into his eyes, she turns to the camera as if to say, “Yes, I’m going out with a bandage-faced man. We are deeply in love. Are you shocked?”

The woman does a lot of running, either to or away from her mummified lover. She runs into a space with lots of eyes painted on the walls. Surely a cruel prank with her boyfriend’s optical disability.

While all this randomness is happening, the Verlaines are in their their own surreal world. They’re found in a black wasteland, with a dark tree in front of a dark blue sky. It’s all in a studio, which gives the setting even more of a surreal flavour.

It’s a strange experience watching this old video. I’ve previously been immersed in the higher-tech world of the late ’90s, where it started to be possible to make a pretty good looking video on a budget. So compared to that period, this old Verlaines video looks a little cheap and clunky. But then being over 20 years old, perhaps it’s time to appreciate it in a new light. Yah, so retro.

Best bit: the freaky smoking mannequin dude.

Director: Toby Parkinson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… February 1992: getting dangerous.

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