Don't Look Back Analysis

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Music Video Analysis Dont Look Back Into the Sun by The Libertines

For my analysis of this video, Im mainly basing it around the music video conventions given by Andrew Goodwin in his book Dancing in the Distraction Factory. He names the following six as conventions of music videos:

Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics (e.g. stage performance in rock video, dance routine.) There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals There is a relationship between music and visuals The demands of the record label will include the needs for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style). There is frequently reference to the notion of looking (screens within screens, telescopes, etc.) and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body. There is often intertextual reference (to films, TV programmes, other music videos etc.)

The video Ive chosen to analyse is Dont Look Back Into the Sun. This is because as a group weve made a general agreement that this type of music makes the best videos. So were taking our video analyses from this indie-rock genre.

If we work through the video chronologically, the first thing that really fits this conventions comes in the second shot. Here, we see a male walking down the stairs, but its a very dark image so we cant really see him. The song however is called Dont Look Back Into the Sun, so one could argue that the reason its dark is that hes not looking into the sun, this character is remaining in the darkness. It can also be argued that this shot demonstrates the genre characteristics, because its a dark shot and this rock genre is often associated with the colour black. The character in the shot also has long hair, which is a stereotypical association of the rock genre.

The next shot also fits Goodwins ideas. Here, we can see two characters wearing sunglasses, which clearly links to the lyrics and name of the song. One could also argue that this is a reference to the notion of looking, as we cannot see where they are looking because their eyes are hidden, however they can see everything. We can also see a man in a white t-shirt with his back to the camera is taking a photograph of the people in sunglasses and the people surrounding them, which is another reference to the notion of looking.

One feature I have picked out during the first three cuts of the video is that they are cutting to the beat. Its quite a middle-speed cutting rate but there is clearly a relationship here between the music and visuals. The notion of looking with the sunglasses continues. Another interesting feature, not really referenced by Goodwin is the costumes. Both of the main characters are wearing red outfits that look similar to royal clothing. This could be to represent that theyre important people and want to be noticed.

A few shots later, we have our first piece of live footage. This demonstrates the genre characteristics as specified by Goodwin. Live stage performance is very common in rock videos so one could argue this clearly follows this stereotype. Live performance is also a common feature in The Libertines other music videos, so this could be another reason why its been featured. Its become a sort of identity or motif across their work. We can also say that with the live performance, this is a clear link between the music and the visuals. This is because it can be interpreted as the band on-screen being the ones who are playing the music.

Interestingly, one of the people playing the music is wearing the same costume that the two characters with sunglasses were wearing earlier in the club. This could be seen as an intertextual reference to itself or it may be that this is the same character at a different point in time and the intention is that the audience realise this. However, its hard to work out for sure about this just yet, as we have little to go on in terms of the whole music video just yet.

During the live performance, there is a projection behind them which reads Future Rock & Roll. This makes it clear to the audience what genre they class their music as. It could also potentially imply that they see themselves as having a long music career and thats where the Future comes from.

After the live performance, a brief cut is made to one of the men from a previous scene wearing the sunglasses. He is outside walking through what looks like a stereotypical British council estate, which could represent that this guy is a regular person and theres nothing special about him; contrasting to the image of royalty and traditionalism that he is portraying through his fashion and dress sense. The British identity is also clearly shown here as there are a number of St. Georges Cross flags in the background. This could be because the video was filmed during an international event such as Euro 2002, or perhaps they have just been placed here as a set up because the producers and/or band wanted to portray the British identity.

A couple of shots later we see a variety of people walking into a shop, however the lighting is low so its a dark shot and we cant actually see who they are. The assumption would be however that the first person to walk through is the man with the sunglasses and the royal outfit. The audience can make this assumption now as throughout the video he has appeared.

Soon, we have an interesting shot when the main character is staring directly down the camera. However, he is still wearing his sunglasses so we cant actually see what hes about which is still creating an intense mystery about who this character is. The mise-en-scene in this shot uses the prop of a lighter to add to characters personality. There is a link to the lyrics here as it says Youre looking rough and youre living strange. It kind of represents him as a bit of a stereotypical troublemaker. This links back to earlier when we saw him walking through the council estate, because these areas are commonly known for trouble.

Following this, we get an extreme close up shot. This time, the man is quite literally behind bars and we can see nothing but his face and sunglasses. There is a lack of light representing that hes in trouble perhaps. Obviously the initial impression from the bars is that hes in trouble and in prison. The reason that the ECU shot was used could be so that we can see the emotion on his face, which still using the sunglasses to protect the sense of mystery surrounding the characters personal identity.

There is a return to live performance here. The repetition of this could be because they want the audience to recognise that these people are playing the song and they dont want that to be forgotten. There is a lot of fast cutting rates, strobe lighting and camera movement here, which makes it exciting to look at and its hard for the audience to predict what will be coming next. One could also argue that the repetition of live performance is fulfilling the needs of the audience, because the rock audience are generally stereotypically known for loving loud, live performance. So instead of making the music massively loud, they represent this through the fast pace of everything going on, so it essentially looks loud. There are also a couple of close ups in the live performance shots, which Goodwin described one of his six music video features. This could be to give the audience a personal relationship with the band.

During this performance there is a link between the lyrics and visuals. The band sing Theyll never forgive you and they wont let you go. This links to the previous shot whereby the man is behind bars, suggesting he has done something wrong. Therefore, he may need forgiveness from someone but the lyrics suggest he wont get it. The lyrics also say they wont let you go. This is a clear link to the fact that he wont be able to get out from behind bars. He cant escape.

The next shot could actually be considered as intertextuality. We view the two men in sunglasses in a music shop picking something from the shelves and hiding it under the jacket. We can see a number of other albums on the shelves and though the image quality is not very good and its hard to work out just what these albums are. Goodwin suggested that intertextuality was a common feature of music videos and this therefore is definitely a reference to that. The camera then pans to follow one of the men as hes walking towards the exit as the other one is stealing a disc.

There is then a serious of little shots, including dancing in a lift and a couple of live performance shots. We then see the two men outside again and to create effect, there is a still shot of them walking towards the camera. To create the close up effect, instead of zooming into the characters, they zoom into the camera. The camera remains absolutely still, but they walk towards it creating a similar effect, which engages the audience and this continues the mystery regarding the two characters.

It then cuts back to the recurring theme of live performance. This is interesting, however because what I have noticed is they tend to cut to live performance during the chorus. This could be for a number of reasons, one being that its louder and more in your face therefore, flashing lights and fast cutting visuals fit better with the music. There is a clear link between music and visuals here. Another reason could be that the lyrics to the verses have a bit more meaning and follow more of a storyline, therefore these can be acted out a lot more than perhaps the chorus can be. The very quick cutting rate is a link to the loud drums and pace of the music.

After the chorus has finished, there is then a cut back outside where one of the men is walking out of a shop, revealing the single that he had hidden under his jacket. There is more intert