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To The End In Marienbad

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Uploaded on Feb 25, 2012

Blur's remarkable song 'To The End' had a stunning video, directed by David Mould, which drew extensively on Alain Resais's notorious puzzle-piece film, Last Year in Marienbad (1960). This video returns the favor, reverse engineering Mould's video using actual Marienbad footage (where I select the closest counterpart shot from the film for each music video shot; I 'cheat' once, to cover a Mould innovation, but you'll have to know the film very well to spot it!).
Mould's video featured Blur's Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon in their pomp, and a marvellously expressive, gamine, balletic model, Amanda Doyle (who's often been misidentified as Stereolabs's Laetitia Sadier, who did To The End's French backing voice) as the 'mystery woman' in an uncertain love triangle.
Doyle [http://tinyurl.com/83vate3], Albarn, and Coxon make an incredibly pretty trio (one that's significantly more youthful and charming than Resnais's), and in Mould's hands a warm, romantic, fast-paced, relatively conventionally arc-ed (cynics might say, 'Tatler-ific') confection emerges. While its influence on things like The Shining is clear, Marienbad is now mostly ignored and forgotten, and mocked to the extent that it's not. (At least in the English-speaking world, Marienbad may in fact currently be less famous than and certainly is less loved than Pauline Kael's dismissal of it as a "high-fashion experimental film, the snow job in the ice palace", and as the butt of her "People are hosting 'Come as the Sick Soul of Europe' parties" joke.) And that's to say that Marienbad is a 'classic' mostly in a Twainian sense: it's a film that many more people want to have seen than actually want to see it.
Blur's video in 1994 changed the equation for Marienbad, at least to some degree, not least because it reminded people that Marienbad would have been much easier to take without its unpleasant, mostly organ score. If, say, Herrmann, or Badalamenti, or, yes, even Blur had scored Marienbad, things could have been very different for the film over time.
At any rate, in my view To The End is one of the core triumphs of Britpop (and one of the best songs of the '90s period), and its vid. is a marvel of the smartypants/art-school (say, Velvets/Bowie/Kate Bush...) side of pop.
I hope that my vid. stimulates discussion about actual and possible relations between pop culture and high art culture, and it should help build the audience in both directions: film snobs (you know who you are) should listen to Blur if they haven't already, and Blur-fans now have even more of a pathway into one of the most arduous of art-films.

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