idea for alternative video treatment for Deerhunter’s “Helicopter”

First: There’s an actual video for this song, which I made certain not to watch before fleshing out the idea below in my head. Turns out there’s no particular resemblance…unless you kinda stretch some interpretive muscles, probably to the straining point. Anyway:

This idea pretty much appeared in my head, whole, a while back. Since it’s really rather a simple idea, I guess that isn’t surprising…but as often happens when ideas just pop into my head, it’s actually hard for me to think of it as actually my own idea. Anyway:

The video opens with a second or so of black screen. Rapidly the screen brightens to a field of various grays and whites, with whiteish blobs moving from bottom to top of screen. (Note: the difference between what we see, and we know retrospectively to have been seeing, is a key aspect of this concept.) Gradually, over the course of the five-minute video, the focus sharpens, the field of view widens, until it becomes clear that the camera’s viewpoint is slowly ascending above a snow-covered landscape. The whitish, upward-moving blobs are revealed as snowflakes (which also clarifies that the film we’re viewing is both slow-motion and reversed). Most of the time is taken up with this rather gradual rising, opening, focusing movement. (The song itself is musically somewhat static and hypnotic, which I imagine is why this image seemed to fit…even though it was actually, in a sense, determined otherwise.) There are also very slow partial and oscillating rotations, primarily orthogonal to the prevailing POV.

In the last half-minute or so, the focus (which has been gradually sharpening throughout) becomes supernaturally sharp: individual snowflakes are discernible, at the same time the (distant, far-below) landscape is in sharp focus as well. Very suddenly we snap into real time: a sudden turnaround in POV, a quick snapping upward into place, brings the viewpoint seemingly into the arms of a man inside the opened door of a helicopter: this image is visible just long enough to be recognized, and then we cut to black.

At this point, anyone familiar with the background of the song will have realized what the video actually is. (See this link if you don’t know).

The song itself ends with a long, static fade: my initial conception of this whole thing occurred without my remembering that. I think the black screen should slowly brighten, revealing a static shot in medium distance of snow falling and covering the ground. That’s it; fade and end.

What I find interesting about this (and please remember: these things weirdly seem as if they’re ideas floating out there in the ether…not something I myself conceived) is the way the literality of the material is transfigured by its treatment. It seems that this fits (my emotional reaction to the sound of) the song quite well, and there are some very specific sorts of references and interpretations that made their way into my head…but, I’ll let those be in lieu of letting this stand, as is.

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