Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Music, vision, and story.

It's been ten years since I first saw this movie. It still breaks my heart. Hell, I even watched the original Spanish version. It's a movie people either love or hate. Well, needless to say, I still love it.

Never before had I been so moved by a soundtrack visually intertwined with a story. For example, "Everything in its Right Place" perfectly captures the film's concept. There are hardly any lyrics, but it stays with you. Yorke wrote this song at the band's reluctant transition into major fame. It set the tone for Kid A – an album delving into how technology was changing human interaction. It's eerily prolific.

"Vanilla Sky" blends songs with the story. The combination creates a visually-lucid, audio-drenched environment. Almost like another character – interacting with scenes and hovering above like a dense fog. Giving us nostalgia. Evoking panic. Making us question what's really happening.

Roger Ebert sums the plot and potential for confusion best, "Vanilla Sky," requires the audience to do some heavy lifting. It has one of those plots that doubles back on itself like an Escher staircase. You get along splendidly one step at a time, but when you get to the top floor you find yourself on the bottom landing. If it's any consolation, its hero is as baffled as we are."
Confused yet? You're supposed to be. The end of the movie explains how we got confused. What really, uh, might have happened. However, when the dream element comes into play, you don't really know what character to trust.

Though exhausting, the movie is full of thought-provoking dualities. Mortality and immortality. Perception and reality. Success and happiness. Meaningful and meaningless. Vanity and value. Emotion and numbness. Decision and consequence. And the lesson we walk away with? "The sweet is never as sweet without the sour."

At each step, we're confronted with determining the 'what is' and longing for the 'what might have been.' And then, just when we think it's over, it takes us full circle. Opening our eyes at each end.

[For more examples of music and vision perfection, see my Digital Kitchen rant.] 

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