Sound And Vision: Wim Wenders

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Sound And Vision: Wim Wenders

In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we discuss Eels' Souljacker Part 1, directed by Wim Wenders.

Wim Wenders has had an expansive side career as a music video director, which many people might not know. The fact is that a lot of the music videos can be tied to certain periods and obsessions in his life, with music or musicians he loves. Even more so, many of the music videos tie into films he made at the time. Think of the music videos he made for U2, which are in most cases directly tied to the soundtracks of features he made. The Ground Beneath her Feet was made for Wim Wenders' Million Dollar Hotel (the screenplay of which was written by Bono) and Stay (Faraway, So Close), was on the soundtrack for Faraway So Close, of course . Sax and Violins by Talking Heads was tied directly to Until the End of the World, just like Spain's Every Time I Try connects to The End of Violence. And the music videos Wenders made for Willie Nelson (here and here) culminated in a documentary/ concert film about the man, called Willie Nelson at the Teatro. Even Asaf Avidan's Anagnorisis can be connected loosely to the dance choreography registrations Wenders' made for Pina, about choreographer Pina Bausch. And that would be ignoring half of them, still.

There is a curious thing going on with the music video for Eels' Souljacker Part 1 tho. Yes, it is again tied to a film Wenders made, a little known anthology film called Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet. The segment Wenders made, Twelve Miles to Trona, is excellent, and a great example of Wenders breathing new life into his road movie obsession. It shows a man driving frantically in search of a hospital, because he accidentally overdosed on drug laced cookies. The soundtrack to the trip is Eels' hard rocking Souljacker. The most beautiful moment in there is when the soundtrack suddenly grinds to a halt with the beautiful ballad 'Woman Driving, Man Sleeping' and the drug-addled brain of the protagonist goes into a slightly catatonic state. The hectic imagery of the piece turns quiet, while at the same time being clearly affected by psychotropics. It is a hauntingly beautiful scene in one of the funniest things Wenders has made, but it feels like vintage Wenders.

The music video Wenders made at the time for Eels, however, feels nothing like the oeuvre of the director. Wenders films the band rocking out in a sort of prison, while surrealist scenarios play out in the cell blocks on the side, and slightly alien-looking fans watch the show. It feels very much inspired by the work of Floria Sigismondi, but nothing at all like Wenders' work itself. It lacks the stillness and grace of much of his work, replacing it with a delirious frenzy that feels like him letting his freak flag fly. I'm not saying it is bad, at all. In fact, it's quite a great music video. But it is one in a register that Wender's rarely operates in. Even Twelve Miles to Trona, ostensibly an ode to rocking out to Eels while driving, is, when push comes to shove, a meditative road movie. One on the dangers of overdosing on 'grown up cookies', as the film calls it, but one nonetheless.

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