jhonnnnny, April 26, 2010 12:36:04 PM CEST
M.I.A. "Born Free" (dir. Romain Gavras)
HD at vimeo, also on youtube
holy fucking shit.
gets the message across to the people...
oh, yeah, and this is going to get a billion comments ;)
whats the message it gets across?
like how unremitting it is.
also reminds me of children of men
when's his feature coming out?
well, that those redheads are sent from hell to destroy us americans...
redheads = redskins?
if anything, it reminds me of www.imdb.com
some shots very beautiful, shoot and run and gun (but not like the hire: powder keg), cinematic, but, unlike the movie, devoid of emotion and just feels empty, generic, sure-fire recipe: military conflict with racial and cultural undertones, protest, dawn of mankind.like a b-side depeche mode video (freedom?)some sort of rockabilly hocus pocus, in military garments.
ps: the gingers in south park are by far more evil
Redhead genocide. Whats Romain got against the ginger kind?
Really well done. Also reminded me of Gomorrah a little too.
well, if he chose black instead of ginger, people would call it either 'stereotype' or 'racist'
This is fucking ballsy and brilliant, everything I wish a lot more music videos would be! Romain does it again, hell yeah! Shit on tyranny.
This is well shot and directed but aspires to be more than it is. Don't get me wrong, it's a bold attempt to lift the genre and the technical skills on display are impressive. The problem I have is that the narrative touches on so much and yet it has no argument, stance, or even meaning.
It's just empty daringness for the YouTube crowd to glom onto and that's unfortunate because, in this, Gavras skimmed brilliance. This hurts more than watching all the mundane efforts of half-talents because this could have been something special. Instead, "it is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Yeah, I love Gavras' work, but there seemed to be something missing with this, I enjoyed the initial build up more than anything. It's unarguably well made but lacks that certain special something. Perhaps it's the way his other videos are grounded in reality, but this one turns to complete fiction the moment we see all the gingers on the bus. Yeah, I think for me it's that.
This is a half baked metaphor at best. The execution and ambition where there but it ended up being sophomoric and cliched. Funny, when I saw the IRA style mural I thought for a second they we're rounding up the Irish.
Now this is fuckin ace. 1000% credit goes to gavras for:
A: Instead of making a shitty video for a shitty song, he creates a compelling argument for how/why this idea could be turned into a feature.
B: Ignoring the requirements of a mv and creating a work that stands on its own.
Incredibly well done. Tremendous potential here.
More fuel to the fire, that was ace.
I agree with kalstark... It i still better than alot of stuff out here..but doesnt really bite where it should...
the theme is: "Treated like a red-headed stepchild"
torn on this one. The execution is un-fucking-believable. So well done, so much detail; great shooting and editing. It's a much better piece for features than Stress was.
But - I agree, the concept is muddy. It feels like it's a statement on something, but what? Or is it just to be goofy?
And where the fuck is M.I.A.? She's typically the star of her videos.
That being said; definitely a contender for video of the year.
Holy fuckin' shit. I see the redheads as Palestinians. The rocks being thrown at the miltary, the dirt roads, etc. All reminds me of Palestinian territories in Israel.
As stated, technically outstanding (with the exception of some of the explosion imagery and specially the kid's execution... if they're striving for realism, what's with those fake-looking details?). The man can build up a scene.
Am I the only one fed up with Mr. Gavras' lust for violence-for-violence sake? Sure, many 'messages' and warnings one can glean from this, but... maybe it's just me.
^ This is not violence for violence sake. Read up on M.I.A.'s background, her upbringing, the persecution of her family and of the Tamil people, the atrocities committed in Sri Lanka. This video might be a bit heavy handed, but it's effective, it brings up so many images of persecution, Northern Ireland, Palestine, immigration, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the American prison industrial complex, race riots in LA... Add in a splash of Assault on Precinct 13, and you got something intense, perplexing, controversial, true, angering, brilliant. A hybrid of social commentary and entertainment. To be discussed.
As I said, all those things can be inferred from the video; sadly, there's no shortage of events, past and present, that this montage can be referring to. But: why the all-out, graphic depictions of violence? Isn't a squad of jackbooted thugs banging down doors enough to cause a gut reaction, there has to be a detailed display of their atrocities? Is the shock value used as surefire mechanism to generate controversy, publicity, good or bad? There have been other clips with similar premises that don't dwell so much on the blatant display of savagery to make their point, i.e., Reznor's 'Survivalism' (granted, way below in overall quality, but that's not the point).
You answered your own question, the point is it creates controversy/discussion. And in this case as opposed to the Stress video, one can attach more of a motivation to it due to M.I.A.'s social/political background. Is showing the blood and violence good or bad is besides the point, because reality will always be much worse than a work of fiction.
if u want real sri lanka and shit u go read anlil's ghost, u dont watch a video by the author of stress
anyway, i find these videos more moving & intense:
Of course a book is going to be more moving. This is still a music video after all.
Vs Apocalypto I don't think so
@ trans_alt Republican murals were always of a finer quality than their Unionist counterparts and way way better than the match-stalk cack depicted in this video
I SEE A METAPHOR FOR THE NEW WORLD ORDER. IT'S ALL PART OF PALESTINE/ ALL OTHER US WARS. LOOK IT UP.
and i witnessed more violence yesterday www.youtube.com than in this 'appaling' (teeth clattering) video
Great video. Well shot. Nicely edited. Doesn't feel like a cheap ploy, even given Gavras' directorial history. M.I.A.'s marketing machine did well pushing out this video with this song. Too bad about her Pitchfork Twitter wanking today.
People will probably like this video to the extent that they buy into the rest of Maya's marketing/branding. I still like Ruben's Galang video the best.
@ legion yes its hard to see the justification for gassing the majority of those fans
@budget I think there is at least some craft displayed here. Her political posturing is pretty lame, and I really had to make myself detach "M.I.A. the artist" from the video in order to appreciate it for the visual and technical appeal. But you are correct, her fans are going to eat this up.
Bah you guys are bitter. This video is pure passion. Hate it or love it, you can't deny it, it delivered. And what's wrong with having a political stance?
Nothing wrong with a political stance. MIA is just a bit of a dummy sometimes, and plays politics for attention rather than out of passion, some argue.
Well as long as she backs it up with real world commitments to the issues she supports, more power to her, other than that I don't follow her career so I wouldn't know what she actually does outside of music and marketing herself.
It grosses me out that the video exploits real world problems as part of a marketing campaign for an album. Many people will watch this video and come away with how "real" Maya is (marketing goal achieved!) but will anyone have learned a single tangible thing about anything that's actually going on in the world? Whether it's conscious on her part or not, it's sad to me.
Well where do you draw the line between passion and exploitation?
I dunno Pancho -- I don't know the girl, so I can't make a valid comment on her intentions.
@ budget, I think you're underestimating the general audience out there. They can draw their own conclusions and I'm sure a fair share of them see thru the hype. At least this is not a blatant glamorization of consumerism like Gaga's 'real, edgy, grimy' Telephone...
not havin a go at you or anything pancho... Call me cynical, but I'd like to know what in pop star terms, are real world commitments to the issues they support politically? Coz I suspect its often more often than not a True Story of Ah Q kind of thing Not that I intend to make out such people are a ringer for Ah Q but I find them often devoid of much analytical depth judgement or conclusion But I guess thats entertainment!
If Maya had done a video that made the exact same point, but without the "OMG NSFW!" factor, it would have gotten a less enthusiastic reception. It's a cliche idea that's been done to death, and it doesn't add anything new other than shocking violence. Yes, the execution is good (actual money in an MIA video is a nice change), but there is no discernible point to it other than M.I.A = edgy realness.
I don't see how Gaga and MIA are all that different when it comes to marketing. They both know what will translate authenticity to their audiences, and they both deliver it in barrel loads.
Yeah I see your point robodrug, and agree to a certain degree. But there are a few popstars out there that use their celebrity to advance worthwhile causes. Don't really know about MIA. But still, this was a work of passion on both sides (mia and romain), where does it become exploitation? Is it because children die? (big hollywood no-no) Are we this engraved in political correctness?
@ budget I didn't see any product placement in MIA's video...
the exploding kid shot was nice, theres no arguing that one but i dont agree with the 'work of passion' factor; on the contrary, it all reads 'hard sell' to me
like in "stress" or, especially, "i believe", this video doesn't feel honest enough - hes trying to be very authentic, but only borrows the image, the style, without really being interested in the problems of the communities he's depicting. feels like the work of a highly skilled culture tourist taking snapshots; or borat; funny, but definitely not in-depth. im not saying a music video director should act like an anthropologist. but when u want to assume the 'am a young nick broomfield gun' status, better make sure youre perceived as genuine.
I don't see any flaws with this. All I know is that it moved me and left a lasting impression. This is a rare feat in music videos.
Yeah I see what you're saying legion, but I approach Romain's videos more as a caricature of realism. It's so over the top that to me at least there is a real separation. I don't think he strives for realism, he uses it as a vehicle, hence my earlier Carpenter Precinct 13 reference.
@ prog Well all right u got me there :) Oxford that’s your old stomping ground innit!
Yeah she's quite bright and went to Uni in LA to get a degree in History (Not that its that uncommon especially amongst the Asian crew, who seem to juggle stardom n' uni as a matter of course)
I think she is extremely careful to focus her political energies on philanthropy. I have heard her comment to the effect that many of her Latin fans would fail to appreciate any overtures by her to influence politics. Her partner being Antonio de la Rúa eldist son of ex-president of Argentina Fernando de la Rúa
Fernando was forced out of office by the 2001 December riots in which the middle class decisively joined in. One of his last acts in office was to ban extraditions for human rights violations (so ‘e’s not exactly a left winger then)
the one thing i've learned from this video is that people (using that term for bloggers loosely) are not as desensitized as i believed. every site's posting it with some hyperbole regarding its lack of safety for the workplace environment.
Kinda reminded me of that Dead Weather video where Jack and the girl are shooting each other. Simple concept, well executed, nothing more, nothing less.
I'll give Roman credit, he does create genuine tension over 9 minutes. And that last kid getting it with the land mine... that was pretty intense. Good work.
Cruising through the carnage. Massive props to Gavras. At last it's not black people getting harassed by police, unlike in the stress video. I do not mean to offend in saying it's refreshing.
Money shot. Great. Who cares what you think? It's the video most of you wish you did. Or did not. Hence 51 comments.
Oh, off topic I think M.i.a's politics are boring. In all she's still a capitalist and still selling music via her message. It's balls out videos are awesome, forget the politics.
i don't get it. devoid of any focus or meaning, treading the same path of pointless violence as the stress video. if you're going to use violence as anything other than pulp entertainment, you need to be very specific about the point you're communicating.
i don't think its well crafted either.... just a series of formless, shaky shots.
Amazing short film. As a music video, and especially for a female pop vocalist, not so sure. Works for a "band" like Justice where the music is more of a score than anything else. But still pretty brilliant as a film.
@ lusk, even weirder ~ Republican volunteer Diarmuid O'Neill (aka Dermot O'Neill)
London arms quartermaster to an IRA ASU Shot dead by the Brits in 1996 (despite what it says on wiki no arms or explosives were recovered) and yes he was a redhead!
Love it, hate it or somewhere in the middle - it's got you all talking. Truth told we can identify that there is some sort of real visceral power here - I think that's what the director does real well. I too feel that it is quite well done and touches on so much but falls short of any kind of argument, stance or meaning - hence an opinion. I felt the same way about Stress. Though don't get me wrong, both appeal to me in some horrific way. This one still stand out quite apart from most videos. With regards to M.I.A. and marketing - she's not even in the video and videos by nature are marketing folks.
Thought it was worth pointing out El P's Smithereens again. Now this is over the top political and clearly has a statement:
"Truth told we can identify that there is some sort of real visceral power here - I think that's what the director does real well."
Who cut this?
romain cuts himself.
keef - 'love it or hate it it's got you all talking'... i guess this is my point. with this and the stress clip romain is looking only to provoke. it's just an ill-thought-out pointer to itself.
there is always going to be a 'visceral power' to graphic images of people assaulting each other, and a smash-the-system kind of energy that might appeal to people here, but this has absolutely no agenda. i don't think gavras understands violence, because he doesn't communicate anything interesting about it in the way that so many directors have. it's lazily indifferent. it's dishonest. it hasn't the conviction or the bravery or the intelligence to be specific.
it's not the imagery that i find offensive, it's the utter lack of intention.
Well what I do think Romain has done is to take the visceral elements of violence and construct them to the medium, political implications and that sorta crap are mostly M.I.A's, it's sorta like a Takashi Miike film where there's a money shot and you go "that was cool" but if you think about it, it is kinda screwed up.
We read too much into videos like these, I liken it to pure old ultra violence which never hurts what he went to achieve. Is there an agenda to everything? that's the problem with people not the video itself. How much of an agenda can you construct in nine minutes? or is there supposed to be one? responsibility is something that works in another medium like film. Sometimes the message is lost if the imagery is powerful like that. Here I just think it works because the people aren't black, much refreshing I must add. Cue the money shot. See ya at the Antville awards.
So is this just a teaser for his feature?
I guess it works as great double marketing then.
vinctus, i disagree with you.
of course not all films need to have an agenda. there are films about violence, and there are films that are simply violent. they are not the same thing. my problem is that this is the latter masquerading as the former.
'ultraviolence' was a term coined in a book that used violence to tell us something about violence. it was clear about what it was trying to say.
the persecution of ginger people is a joke that points to everything and nothing at all. i find it astonishing that so many visually literate people on this site have been seduced by something so crass.
Well it's just a matter of fact, most people outside of the antville crowd are going to read some sort of political statement into the video. We might not like to admit it, but Romain still managed to stir up all sorts of things. Offensive or daring, call it what you want... he succeeded and I applaud him for that. It takes more than violence to stir up controversy and conversations.
no pancho, i think you're wrong... and it's a very important point. it takes absolutely nothing more than violence for the sake violence to stir up controversy and conversation. causing controversy is a very easy thing to do indeed and for romain it seems an end in itself.
he's succeeded in nothing more than drawing attention to his film, himself, and the longer film that he is in the process of making.
"the persecution of ginger people is a joke that points to everything and nothing at all."
Actually it's very easy to fail at controversy. After 2 days the video is going to hit the 1 million views mark on vimeo alone. So Romain succeeded. Sorry. What did he do wrong?
"whoring for views"
IMHO, Nu_Shuz concisely sums up this video's primary flaw,
"...Not all films need to have an agenda. There are films about violence and there are films that are simply violent. They are not the same thing. My problem is that this is the latter masquerading as the former."
Indeed, it's the masquerading that irks me.
haha legion, I had a feeling you might bring this back and I'm glad you did. See there is a difference... point a camera at two girls on a white background and call it a day. Or go out on locations with a whole crew of filmmakers, actors, stunt work, etc.. and produce a tangible movie. Lazy easy trick vs. passionate filmmaking.
no - one trick is as easy as the other. these films essentially come from the same place. the difficulty/technicality in making it doesn't make it less lazy as a film.
@ kalstark et all, what masquerading? It is the viewer that decides what he wants to see in the film. Some people will see anything they want in it (and check the comments around the web, they do: persecution, immigration, palestine, the iran-iraq war, the vietnam war, afghanistan war, the prison system, the police state, etc, etc...) Some people will just see the violence and controversy. If you think Romain is masquerading, I think you're mistaking. He's just doing. And everybody else can judge the content on their own.
pancho, you're getting to the heart of my problem here. these associations are vague because the intention of the film is vague. it's a dishonest and unfocussed piece of communication.
and if some people see nothing but violence and are comfortable with it, there is definitely something wrong.
If by vague you mean not clearly defined, then I think that's the reason why the video is a success because it resonates with so many different people. If the video was about illegal mexican immigrants being rounded up by the Arizona border patrol, would you think it was honest and focused? I guess what's really putting you off is the killing of the children and the over the top fascist depiction of the cops, no?
that's an interesting point. the film doesn't have to have a specific subject matter to put forward a focussed point of view.
i personally think the lack of definition on the directors part is not because he wants to leave the message open to interpretation (there are films that have depicted a dislocated, motiveless view of violence very successfully - van sants 'elephant' is a good example) i think it's because he actually has nothing to say about it. i think it's because he wants a million youtube hits.
i suspected as much when stress came out, though he almost got away with it - a horror film for the french middle class, shot super real
this is the same template, not quite as sharp, and unfortunately confirms he has very little to offer other than sensationalism
i wonder what his dad would say
'do your thing, be yourself' -dad
'don't listen to the internet. it's not your dad.' - dad
I wonder how Eric Wareheim would've directed this very same concept.
You've all fallen for it, Romain succeeded. Violence or not, it's got you all talking and debating and that's the sign of something good.
To back up the "ultra violence" comment, liken it to A Clockwork Orange and parallel that to it's accusation of glorifying violence or persecuting it. It's neither. It's a Music Video with shock value. Ginger people blow up. He's just really good at staging things that get under your skin. There is no agenda other than the one you bring, folks. End of discussion.
Watching it again.
^^^ I'll co-sign that one.
I don't know how anyone can argue that this video is vague or doesn't have an agenda. This video is about xenophobia/racism and power. The video illustrates in stark detail what happens when the state or the group in power uses xenophobia/racism to maintain power.
The result is that people, both in the group (the naked couple) and outside of the group (the redheads) are dehumanized. The dehumanization allows the state to rationalize denying privacy and denying rights and enacting violence and murder and eventually genocide.
I am pretty sure the point of the video is to allow you to draw parallels to conflicts around the world. Hispanic Immigration in the US and Muslims in Europe are less violent right now, but as xenophobia and racism grow, they can lead to situations that we see in Israel with Palastinians, with Kurds in the Middle East or with Tamils in MIA's own Sri Lanka. If conflict is not resolved, it leads to what we saw in Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia, and the Holocaust.
I think technically, Romain Gavras adopts his scenes from, say, classic music videos. As he adopted some scenes from Aphex-Twins' 'Come to Daddy' in "Stress"; here, he adopts from Nine Inch Nails' "We're in this together" in the ending sequence.
romain gavras is a hoax.
this video is not controversial.
this is what i would call controversial (and courageous for that matter - the 'enemy'/ the 'other' is real, wife-beating, bomb strapping muslims, not risk-free ginger kids).
One is fiction, using a film by a murdered filmmaker to make your basis is a weak excuse to pander your contrarian impulses.
Hater of the highest degree. Yeah that's you.
Well if it's all a hoax, then the million plus viewers, us and legion are all suckers.
lomografx, id take it as a compliment, if you werent the same guy who wet his pants championing some videos which i couldnt like for the life of me. it simply means we have different tastes in stuff.
but please allow me not to agree with you - on the one hand you say gavras' video is so intense and tru and revolutionary (a freedom rights activist in its own right), on the other hand, when confronted with a really intense piece, you go back and say that gavras' is just a pop video.
although i admit you do have a point: i spent quite a lot of time hating on this phoney video, im way too loud and i shall stop now
Theoretically I'm definitely feeling Karlstark and Nu-Shuz on this one.
However the shot of the wall mural depicting the ginga's uprising made my day.
Whatever... it worked, tremendous effort for a huge budget.
Exploding guy... why not. Thats worth a million views on vimeo. Pity Romain doesn't get $1 for every view.
@ legion: no it is not a compliment. You are a hater.
I do not know you but your comments mostly are garbage. It's one thing to be disagreeable, but another to shit on with cheap statements. Spend more time being balanced instead. It's refreshing. You'll like it. Or not.
Keyboard pirate you are.
feels like a nathan barley production.
@lomografx - yes, indeed i am a hater and a keyboard pirate (i dunno what the latter means). i am also the first one to have noticed this video is full of shit.
Anyone know what the budget was?
@kansas - would make for a much more interesting landscape if directors got paid per view... wonder if the labels would pick up on that?
YouTube just banned it, there is a good version also on M.I.As site:
(opens directly the video)
The Guardian's take on it.
still on the tube
It's not the Guardian's take on it, it's Anna Pickard's take on it. She found it distasteful. What I find distasteful is youtube's censorship. What kind of hypocrisy is that when the comments sections in youtube are full of racist immature misogynist insults? Put the video back up, until then fuck google, they're no better than China.
Weak. Feels like bullshit to me. I don't think it's nearly as good or meaningful as his work in Stress. Sloppier all around and had only a handful of moments that rose above standard. I agree with Kalstark, it wanted to be something more. Maybe I'm numb to the "riot police representing oppressive country squashing the little guy" theme. Maybe it didn't work here because I didn't get the context or there isn't one outside what you put on it. For me, the jabs at American imperialism or racism or whatever the hell you decided was wrong with America (insert first world nation?) fall short.
Maybe I'm just sick of people taking jabs at America. Sure sure we could get into the problems with American foreign policy but I'd find it far more interesting if people/directors/artists were spending their time looking at more severe and present forms of oppression. A friend of mine just returned from working on a documentary in cambodia where the sex trade is so severe the Government actually runs brothels. 7 year old girls are sent out by their parents to work the streets, get brutalized, and their parents sew them back together and send them back out three weeks later. It's insane, systemic, and it all rides on the back on the greed and perverted lusts of evil men. This kind of thing is happening all over the world and here I get the plight of what, angry red-headed youth (Did Martin DeThurah cast this)? There are many, many more targets far more worthy of anger.
Legion is right. Normally he's a hater but not this time. To me, this felt like an excuse to show people exploding. Shock factor + MIA + a budget for the youtube crowd.
Did anybody else think it was odd the police were chasing the people through a minefield? Ruined my suspension of disbelief.
"Ruined my suspension of disbelief"? What more than a bus full of gingers being sent to die in the desert?
I think it was just the guy who ran the wrong way who got chased anyway.
I guess whatever you say about Gavras and his lack of moral consideration, he knows how to make cinema.
For my money the video still loses something as soon as they get to the desert and the film becomes over-stylised slow-motion. Maybe he's trying to make a point about the stylisation of violence in american cinema. The video starts with the realist doc style that Romain can go well and then just turns into violence for the sake of spectacle.
Anyway, can someone please tell me if this is just re-cut footage from his feature?
I really do wonder what Costa would think of the anti-political backlash against his son's film.
'I guess whatever you say about Gavras and his lack of moral consideration, he knows how to make cinema'
well, he knows how to make cinema with lurid violence in it. everything else is pretty anonymous if you ask me.
So to sum it up, Romain is an amoral violent self absorbed anti-american hoax. :)
you reap what you sew, pancho.
Indeed, watch him work with even bigger acts down the road.
sure. objective acquired.
Pancho, I don't know, I don't imagine he'd be able to 'play the game' with much bigger acts, nor that he would even care to, I think he'll probably move permenantly into features.
Koop, I don't know you can say it's 'anonymous', he's pretty adept at making fictional scenes seems completely real, and both the style and content of his videos of recent years are almost unmistakable.
i suppose what i mean greg is that if romain hadnt directd two extraordinarily violent videos his presence in the video/film world would be pretty anonymous. think about it.
Koop, of course you're right, it's 2010, people have no time for film-making so the only way to make waves as a director is through extreme violence or hardcore sex (ala schofield) or through a cool/funny/silly visual gag or sfx. But I still think that Gavras film-making ability transcends the violence for the sake of views. The DJ mehdi video is one of my favorites of the last decade; it's got everything that makes a great short film, and despite the easy pointless violence in this vid and Stress, both videos do have panache and power; there's no denying they are well made. This isn't bumfights.
Anyway, my two cents ;)
Has nobody here seen Z? Gavras anonymous?! His name alone makes him anything but. He would have received some degree of attention no matter what he did -- he just happened to tap into the music video scene with violent, pseudo-political narratives. I really don't think he's going to be a one-note kind of director.
koop, his previous videos (for mehdi, and last shadow puppets) are excellent, way above average, and maybe even better than his recent work. he was well on his way, 'stress' just put him over the top.
Oh dear skynews gets in on the act now!
Great video, period. A bit long winded, could have got to its point alot sooner.Some great imagery, i agree with the mural being fucking A.
what everyone is missing is that MIA is shit. Her music gives me a headache, policitcal or not, she cant rap. Infact her rapping reminds of my 6 year old nephew.
Public Enemy were political and did it with alot more style, substance and rhythm.
What this video has done is made everyone forget that she is crap and for that alone, it works like charm.
ginger boy 'splains all.
Romain talks (en français)
en fait Vincent parle plus que Romain qui, lui, ne dit pas grand chose