Director Research

Posted: November 10, 2010 in Lucy Flaherty

Lucy – Marie Flaherty                                                                                                                Director Analysis

Romain Gavras  

Romain Gavras is a French director who is acknowledged for his controversial music videos exploiting taboo ideas. Born in Greece, 1981, Romain began making his own short films at 14. Even though his videos have been highly criticized for their provocative and contentious themes, this has also been the reason they have become so successful. Responsible for videos such as ‘Signature – DJ Mehdi’, ‘Born Free – MIA ‘ and ‘The age of the understatement- The last shadow puppets’, Gavras produces videos that shock the public, establishing his reputation as a controversial music video director.

‘Born Free’ – MIA

This video raised huge controversy when released, causing it to be banned on youtube for being too explicit for viewers. This video sees ginger haired males being forced onto a military bus by US military officers and taken to a camp, where a young boy is shot and the rest are enforced to run across open land for their lives. As each is targeted, the video comprises scenes of a horrific and violent nature, which proved too discriminative for viewers and critics.

Andrew Goodwin created seven physiognomies that most commonly feature in music videos. This video goes against the characteristics identified in Goodwin’s analysis of music videos in several different ways. The music video does not feature the ‘star’ (in this case. MIA) and is purely based on a narrative sequence. Therefore there is no close ups of the artist and therefore may not comply with record label demands. The video follows the categorisation of a short film, and because of this narrative, does not follow the genre characteristics of this style of music.  There is no frequent reference to voyeurism, as the video is based around the violent and aggressive actions of males and war. The video mimics ideas about war and hostage, part of the reason it is so controversial in relation to the present global situation, with terrorism and racism being continually raised issues in countries all over the world today. There is lack of relationship between lyrics and visuals, however the pace and tempo of the music abides by some of the editing techniques and has a connection with the emotions the characters may be feeling. Again, as this video has a short film arrangement, it differentiates away from artist iconography, as no specific link can be made from the artist to the video. The beating, violent deaths and relation to real life issues, in ways, make this video unpleasant to watch, but also grabs attention causing its success. A sense of intertextual reference is made to recent war films and documentaries. Even though there is no obvious reference to any film or TV programme in particular, the video features ideas and scenes seen across films and TV programmes based on war in both the past and present. The success of this video was recognised when it reached 30 million hits online.


‘The age of the Understatement- The last shadow puppets’


‘The age of the understatement’ by the Last Shadow Puppets won Best Cinematography at the 2008 UK Music Video Awards. This video also duplicates images of war as I was set on a Russian Military Base. However, in contrast to ‘Born Free’ this video does follow some of the characteristics in Goodwin’s analysis. The Individual who sing the vocals are featured in the video and frequent close ups are used to identify the artist and conform with Record Label demands. This video consists largely of performance scenes, which follows characteristics of the ‘indie/alternative’ genre.  In terms of mise en scene, in particular costume, the appearance is not theatrical, but simple, another genre characteristic seen in this style of music video. In comparison to the ‘Born Free’ video, and other videos composed by Gavras, this video filters into the mainstream market and is less controversial.


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