Sound And Vision: Kristian Levring
In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we take a look at Oh Land's Love You Better, directed by Kristian Levring.
The music video of this week's Sound and Vision might seem like a far cry from where Kristian Levring started. He was a filmmaker who first came onto the scene with documentaries after all, and then made one of the earliest Dogme95 films, The King Is Alive. Dogme95 itself was notoriously weary of anything that could be seen as an (special) effect. The rules of Dogme95 were there to reestablish a sense of naturalism to cinema, foregoing things like props and external lighting equipment, to keep film pure. The vow of cinematic chastity became itself an affectation. From no effects to all affect.
Kristian Levrings music video for Oh Land's Love You Better, on the other hand, is purely built around the opportunities CGI brings us. It uses the morphing effects used in something like Michael Jackson's Black or White (itself directed by John Landis), to reverse age the artist Oh Land, and subtly transform her appearance to fit the lyrics. It has a mythological quality to it, and that makes it feel like a quintessential Kristian Levring-piece.
Because in his Dogme95 film, The King Is Alive, he also played around with the notion of classic storytelling and performativity. Even with the stark and harsh visuals, because The King Is Alive was filmed by natural lighting in the desert, there is a grand quality to it all. Maybe because it is about a troupe of actors playing a version of King Lear, in the same way that latter films by Kristian Levring nod to classic literature and mythology.
The Intended, which I haven't seen personally, has been described as a modern update of Heart of Darkness. And The Salvation, a film in a genre that is already rife with iconography, the western, adds notions of Christ-allegory and Norse Mythology into the mix. That Oh Land's Love You Better itself feels like a tale about immortality, starring a fading deity trapped in a globe, makes it feel iconic and weighty, maybe slightly kitsch. But even if the form between his earlier films and this later music video might wildly differ, they still feel like coming from the same voice.