running away with kanye west

Def Jam/MTV

I could be incorrectly using “Runaway” as a pun for this post, but as a title it works. I’ve watched Kanye West’s short film Runaway twice now and I had to let the images and music soak in before I was able to craft a response to what I have seen and heard. And for the record, viewing this short film is so much better uncut (like on Kanye’s website) than when it aired on TV (which I DVR’d and frowned every time there was a commercial break).

In any event, I would have to say I enjoyed it. I may not have understood all that was going on, but overall I liked what I saw. As many Indoobians should know, I’m a sucker for special effects. Actually, what’s more correct to say is I’m a sucker for visual effects. There were plenty. Most notably at the end of the film is probably what I enjoyed the most, but let’s back up.

I never really feel like giving summaries but a brief one would be a phoenix falls to earth (as part bird, part woman) and Kanye finds her and brings her home. The phoenix learns through Kanye about the earth and all the good and bad things that are in it. Eventually, the phoenix longs to return home despite Kanye wishing her to stay. They spend a final night together and in the morning she has left to return to the sky. Kanye chases after her in the woods but it’s too late.

It’s a simple story and easy to understand. The intersections of shots of explosions I wasn’t clear on. I’m familiar with a lot of art films and commercial films and I can understand what Kanye was trying to do here. I noticed on Twitter how so many people weren’t used to this “artistic” look or understand what Kanye might possibly be trying to say. I admit, I wasn’t too sure either. But I truly wasn’t looking for interpretation and was just along for the ride and seeing what this crazy guy had on his mind. I do appreciate his artistic sense and can look beyond jewelry and cars, when it comes to thinking of hip hop anyway. And by the way, those who aren’t familiar with ballerina, what they did is very difficult to do. It’s a form of dance I’ve learned to respect very long ago due to the strength and dedication it takes.

What I enjoyed the most is the imagery and his imagination and I’m happy to see someone get to show us what they are thinking and seeing it through to fruition. I imagine when Kanye is in the process of making these songs, he sees something visually in his mind… maybe a whole story for a string of songs that otherwise would have no sensible connection. Sorta like a soundtrack to a movie… but without the movie. Well, in his case, perhaps he was cooking up both at the same time? Not that that’s anything new. But it’s just different. Ambitious. Also, I’m surprised how many naked girls turned up in this. (LOL)

But what really worked for me was the music and how well it tied this movie together. I almost want to say that if this film had none of the music, or maybe just the title song “Runaway”, I wouldn’t be much of a fan. But I’m particularly fond of the track “All The Lights” and can’t wait to hear more. I can’t wait to hear the album, actually. I’ve liked most of what I’ve heard thus far from the singles to GOOD Fridays to this.

I told a friend I’d talk about the giant Michael Jackson head. This is one of those things I wasn’t sure I understood correctly… Why anyone would go see a random parade (or even have one) at night that only features MJ’s head and fireworks and it wasn’t his birthday? I couldn’t tell you… Unless you are a big fan like Kanye is and have the resources to do so, then go for it. I’d be there too, actually. But my only guess then and still now is just to pay homage to probably the king of music videos, especially long versions like this one. Thriller? Moonwalker? Ghosts? Not to mention all the premieres MJ had that debuted on primetime and was the talk of the town the next morning. Plus, I feel Kanye is working his way to being a big superstar similar to Jackson. So that’s what I think the big MJ head is all about.

As I said, I really enjoyed the last part. Phoenix had been reborn and is going back into the sky. The music really uplifted this scene to the point I felt chills up my spine. This usually happens when crescendos are happening or a big climax has occurred and all things are coming together gloriously. OR, simply put, when music and visuals compliment each other seamlessly. The tingling doesn’t happen all that often. If it did, I might have to get something in my nervous system checked out.

As of this moment, I don’t know exactly how this will be sold… like on DVD or what? Does it come with the album? This really is one of Kanye’s most ambitious projects and from the sound of it on interviews, he’s not done yet. I’m really interested to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Before I end, I’d just like to address something I constantly hear on message boards about celebrities like Kanye and Lady Gaga and anyone doing really big things or really weird things in the name of art: for those saying they are looking for attention–of course they are! That’s the point! How else can they share their work if you don’t notice them? That’s no excuse for last year’s VMA incident, but still. That rant is now complete.

As for Runaway and other Kanye stuff I recently read, check these out.

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Posted in kanye west, michael jackson, movie, music, music video

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October 2010
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