Heard them Say by Kanye West, Directed by Michel Gondry (2012)
Michel Gondry has the extraordinary ability to turn the images he sees in his head into captivating and unique visuals in motion on screen. Gondry’s work can be described as unusual or rudimental in a sense, but this is where his childhood dreams and imaginations come to life. In-camera techniques are used, much like a magician uses his hands, to create illusions that trick the mind, as well as the eyes. Michel Gondry’s films, such as the music video Heard them Say (2012) which he directed for Kanye West, are very similar in many ways to George Méliès’ short films, such as The Vanishing Lady (1896).
Mèliès and Gondry evoke a sense of wonder in their films and aren’t “afraid to invent visual singularity” (Thill, 2006), but the real similarity between the two directors is their use of in-camera techniques. Substitution splicing (Ezra, 2000), also known as ‘stop motion’ (Ezra, 2000), is an in-camera technique that originates in the work of George Méliès and is commonly used in many of Michel Gondry’s films. For example, in the music clip Heard them Say (2012), throughout the entire clip Gondry creates the illusion that the beds and everything in the shopping centre are moving on their own accord, when in actual fact Gondry has used ‘substitution splicing’ (Ezra, 2000), where he has taken many shots of the bed in different positions all over the store by stopping the camera, moving the bed slightly and the starting the camera, ‘stop motion’ (Ezra, 2000). This technique was also used in Méliès short film The Vanishing Lady (1896), but rather than using it for a moving effect, Méliès uses it to create a disappearing/reappearing effect where a cloth is placed over a lady sitting on a chair and each time it is removed the lady disappears and a skeleton takes her place, which is all done with the technique of ‘stop motion’ (Ezra, 2000).
It is evident that Gondry has been inspired by the techniques founded by Méliès, which brings about comparisons of their works, but I believe there is still contrast. Although Gondry uses similar techniques to Méliès, I believe it is how he uses these techniques which separates him from Méliès and makes his work recognisable for his unique concepts and powerful story-telling, rather than Méliès techniques.
Change Before Going Productions. (2011) The Vanishing Lady [media]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7-x93QagJU
Enigmatic Lucifer. (2012). Kanye West: heard ’em say ft. adam levine (original video) [media]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Bu3tp4lLg
Partizen Official. (2014). I’ve been twelve forever. [media]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF8kN-M2XNY
Ezra, E. (2000). George Méliès, Machester & New York: Machester University Press. Retrieved from http://onlineres.swin.edu.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/497036.pdf
Thill, S. (2006). How my Brain Works: an interview with Michel Gondry. Retrieved from http://brightlightsfilm.com/brain-works-interview-michel-gondry/#.Vc1_plzuUas