by Robert Schober
It would seem that V2 Music artist The White Stripes have taken Bjork’s place as Michel Gondry’s muse. “Denial Twist” marks the fourth video that the director and band have collaborated on. Leaving in their wake a pile of Legos and 20-some odd drum kits, they now tackle the Conan O’Brien Show. This may seem an odd setting for video- maybe even a bit like shameless plug for The Late Show- but in fact, Gondry is reconstructing a day out of a week in the White Stripe’s life. Many readers may remember when their album ‘Elephant’ was released, the Stripes played Conan five consecutive nights to promote the record.
Gondry has taken this and applied his classic signatures to it: recursion, the one-take on a perspective-distorted set, and the injection of some autobiography. In the video, Jack and Meg are oddly distorted and elongated while Conan is Conan, but with his head grafted onto a dwarf. While you can instantly tell you are watching a Gondry video here, it’s still visually fresh and innovative. There is something uncanny and disturbing about the effects. The integration of two-dimensional imagery from the show’s broadcast with Gondry’s 3-D set leaves the brain swimming from all the spatial and temporal displacement.
There is a lot of talking and extraneous sound in this video, which either says something for the daring of the label’s marketing or the clout that the band and director have when making creative decisions. At one point, The band sits with Conan to talk and they bring him out a giant plaster replica of the host’s head. In fact, this head was actually made by Gondry as a gift for Conan; he thought it would be humorous to integrate this into the video. Indeed it does heighten the surreal self-referential nature of the clip and draws his creative hand into the fold of the rip in space-time where the fictional video and the actual event are twisted together.
The video mirrors how that week must have gone for the band; like it may never end. The Stripes drive home to watch their performance on the show after the taping and find that their TV has bad reception. Frustrated, Meg kicks the set, accidentally putting her foot through it and crushing the piano that Jack plays on the Conan show. This of course, is something that happens in the beginning of the video with no apparent reason or explanation, and as the video comes full circle, is finally revealed. Conan arrives at the apartment to watch the show and laments how big and square his head is.
Gondry delivers another great video that will hopefully become part of a second volume of Director’s Cut dvds.
Watch The White Stripes “The Denial Twist” Music Video:
Artist: White Stripes
Song: The Denial Twist
Label: V2 Music
Director: Michel Gondry
Production Co.: Partizan