Friday, September 6, 2013

sea change, Turin Brakes

I used to be a pandora addict, but at my new job I'm in an office with my boss and another co-worker, so I'm more careful about my use of space, and I really don't listen to Pandora as much anymore. My favorite station is the Mumford and Sons station (oooh doggies I love Mumford and Sons). This song, Sea Change by Turin Brakes, comes up sometimes on that station. I have never heard of Turin Brakes except in this one context, but this song catches my attention every time I hear it, so I just watched the music video this morning.
It's really captivating. You have to watch:

Ok. The use of toy soldiers. Why?? why choose toy soldiers over real soldiers? probably for budget reasons. But I wouldn't have it any other way. The use of toy soldiers is good for the following reasons:

a. It's a little weird--kind of like watching Gumby--so it makes me really actually want to watch it. I'm hooked to the screen for 4 minutes.

b. Besides the fact that this is made with toy soldiers, everything else seems fairly conventional--it's a typical injured-and-maybe-dying-war-hero-agonizes-over-past-deeds-and-losses set up. He's laying in the bed and he's thinking about the things that have led him to this day. It's so formulaic that you can really imagine an actual live-action figure laying there in the bed, going through the same thing. It creates this vivid picture in my head. I think to myself, this is just a stand-in for a real person. And then I can impose the image of the real person over the image of the toy soldier.

c. You have to wonder what the use of toy soldiers symbolizes here. As I already mentioned, I think it was probably a budget choice, but I still ask myself, what does it mean? to use toy soldiers? You could go a lot of directions with this question. You could say something about boys playing with toy soldiers and romanticizing war. or maybe the toy soldiers show how removed we are from the actual wars that take place in far away places, not on American soil... (I have family members who have served in armed conflict but am not close to anyone who is currently serving anywhere, so even though I listen to the news and form opinions about our involvment in conflicts over seas, it all seems very distant to me). You could also use the argument that using toy soldiers makes this mini drama seem more like art and less like life. The little pretend explosions LOOK PRETEND. It's all pretend. And you can view all these intricate details--the expressions carefully painted on the faces of the dolls, the carefully constructed miniature architecture--for what it is. An art project. A cinematic experience. Not real. But still, that radioactive maw in the side of that building looks very threatening and says something very bad about what that soldier lying in that bed in that hospital is going through, will go through. So you connect back to the life and death issues that this art symbolizes. In other words, there are many layers to this piece.

You could say my little critique of a music video here is kind of a silly way to spend my time--I'm over thinking it maybe. But I'll point that the chorus in this song starts off with the lines "if we don't do this, somebody else will" (which feels true about war) but ends with "if we don't do this, nobody else will" (which also feels true...) --and I never would have connected this song to war or paid much attention to the lyrics had I not seen the music video, and I think that deserves consideration.

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