Since his first works with his ex-partner Fiona Apple in the late 90s (‘Across the Universe’, ‘Fast as You Can’, ‘Paper Bag’), Paul Thomas Anderson has always found a place to direct the music videos of his friends and collaborators: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, the Haim sisters.
Before getting involved in the filming of his next mysterious film (there is a lot of secrecy around him, hardly anything is known beyond his cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Regina Hall, Sean Penn, Alana Haim), PTA filmed this clip for The Smile , whose ‘Wall of Eyes’ has just been published.
The video clip begins with a long introductory sequence, photographed in black and white, with geometric composition and slow camera movements, which contrasts with the accelerated editing of the rest of the film. Anderson uses one of the most recognizable symbols of surrealist iconography: the eye. In fact, there is a shot, that of the eyes peeking out of various holes, that Buñuel or Dalí could have filmed (the scene is reminiscent of the Catalan painter’s famous sets in Hitchcock’s ‘Remember’).
That initial, internal calm is interrupted by the external hustle and bustle. A gale-force wind pushes Thom Yorke out onto the crowded streets of London. From that moment on, in ‘Wall Of Eyes’ two realities coexist with different rhythms: that of the protagonist and that of the world around him. For the visual translation of it, the director combines two filming speeds and the inclusion of flashes of color as flashes of noise. On this occasion the reference could be the famous sequence from ‘Wonderland’ (1999) by Michael Winterbottom, with the unforgettable music of Michael Nyman.
The clip ends with a sequence that is as brilliant as it is disturbing: a travelin through a pub bar that shows different versions of Yorke in different attitudes. A final image that could be read as the visual representation of a mental break, a schizophrenic disconnection from reality.