florence_st_jude 2Stolen Shots is a column in which our bud, fellow director Caleb Jackson picks apart some music videos that we love. Check out what he’s got to say, because it’s awesome.

“And I’m learning, so I’m leaving, and even though I’m grieving I’m trying to find the meaning, let loss reveal it”, sings Florence Welch to a passerby asking “Why are you traveling alone? Are you lost?” Enter the world of “St. Jude”; dually abstract and story driven, this video continues the ongoing story of Florence + The Machine’s How Big How Blue How Beautiful Odyssey. To make more sense of things, you can choose to go and watch the previous two chapters to “St. Jude”, but I fell in love with it without any prior knowledge.

For context, the narrative really starts in “What Kind Of Man“, with Florence and her guy talking candidly about one of her dreams and his decision to not wake her, to which she muses, “so you think that people who suffer together are more connected than if they are content?” This sets the theme for the story, and what follows seems to be the visualization of her dreams. In “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful“, she endures a metaphorical identity crisis, staged in a coliseum type stage, dancing against her twin. Finally, in “St. Jude”, the narrative is continued with the man who was with her from the beginning. She is carried by him through the rain, and then kneels to pray, supposedly for her love to return. Shot entirely in purple dusk, the dreamlike narrative stretches across the video, intertwining the lyrics with each situation perfectly, and posing some unanswered questions as well. The beginning and end are framed between the presence of a swarm of insects flying into the sky, creating a circle that likely relates to the first circle of Hell, a section of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

What makes this video for me is how much emotion it packs into a few minutes, and doing so with only a shred of narrative. Though you’re not sure why Florence is having such a spiritual crisis with her man, you can definitely feel something there. Choreographer Ryan Heffington really pulled off the physical movements and made everything feel melodramatic and theatrical, matching the songs lyrics about longing for her lover. Heffington seems to have a touch with this kind of choreography, sharing striking resemblances to his work with Maddie Ziegler on the Sia videos, but using a more subjective approach to here. This video is not as dance driven as the previous two installments, but the movements still carry through and provide an abstract form of narrative through reoccurring movements and visual motifs.

Overall, “St. Jude” is a successful work of abstract narrative. Director Vince Haycock delivers an enrapturing experience for the viewer, and completes his goal of telling an emotional story that flows with the themes of the album.

Caleb

Caleb Jackson is a director/writer/producer at Felt Film. He’s got some more music video reviews at Lowlyer.