Michel Gondry

image: © 2005 Sam Javanrouh

Even if his name isn’t immediately familiar, you’ve probably seen his work in television commericials and his most recent film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His corporate clients include Nike, BMW, Coca-Cola, Air France, and AMD. In 1994, his “Drugstore” spot for Levi’s took the Lion D’Or (Gold Lion) at Cannes, and is literally the most award-winning commercial of all time.

Even more interesting to me is his work directing music videos. He’s done promos for The Rolling Stones, Daft Punk, and Beck, among others – followers of Björk will recognize his hand in “Hyperballad” and especially “Human Behavior”, which won nearly every music video award in existence at the time. The White Stripes’ video for “Fell in Love with a Girl”, composed entirely of animated Lego blocks, took three awards at the MTV VMAs in 2002, including Breakthrough Video and Special Effects. His newest piece for The White Stripes is “Denial Twist” starring Conan O’Brien:

My favorite Gondry videos, however, involve his collaboration with The Chemical Brothers. Unlike a lot of musicians, Tom and Ed recognize that their talent in the aural realm does not necessarily translate to the visual. Instead, they adopt a much more abstract, cinematic approach to their promos, rarely appearing themselves, and often telling a story as engaging as the music itself. “Star Guitar” is a stunning example of this, and is featured alongside many other excellent works on their Singles 93-03 DVD. (I recommend this disc highly, for the Michel Gondry videos or otherwise.)

For a more concentrated dose of Gondry Goodness, check out the DVD, The Work of Director Michel Gondry:

The Work of Director Michel Gondry invites the lucky viewer into a wonderland of childlike imagination. Before the Versailles-born Gondry turned his creative ingenuity to feature films (…), these 27 music videos and assorted “stories and things” formed a legacy of supreme cleverness, suggesting a creative lineage from the pioneering film magic of Georges Méliès to the groundbreaking experimental films of Norman McLaren. It’s perfectly fitting that the accompanying 75-minute documentary is titled “I’ve Been 12 Forever,” because Gondry (b. 1964) never lost the sense of wonder and inventiveness that children display when their minds are allowed to flourish in a creative environment.

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