By Ariana Pelser & Bec Wolfers
In celebration of Heavy and Weird’s ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ tribute week, Ariana and Bec decided to have a joint review conversation about the video for ‘Sacrelige’ – the first single from the new YYY record, ‘Mosquito’.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Watch the video below.
Bec: Hello Ariana! So what did you think of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ new video for ‘Sacrelige’?
Ariana: Hi Bec. Why, thank you for asking. I have to say that I am a definite fan of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs video for the song ‘Sacrilege’. It was a rather intense video which struck an emotional chord.
How about you?
Bec: I’m in agreement – it was a really confronting and artistic video. Unsettling and mysterious, it left me with more questions than answers – which I often find is the mark of good art.
What did you feel were some of the themes present in the video?
Ariana: Well, as you said above, ‘it left me with more questions than it did answers’. I had to view the video a few times in order to make sense of it all. It touched on quite a few thematic concepts, however the most prevalent for me would have to be the religious theme (ie, the priests and the various religious symbols scattered throughout the video) along with the exploration into the dark and sinister side of human nature.
Speaking of the dark and sinister side of human nature, there seems to be some intense imagery focused around this motif. How did it affect you and what are your thoughts on the subject?
Bec: Thanks for the interesting question, Ari. I found the imagery very expressive…yet open to interpretation. It all left me with a disturbed feeling, but I also felt satisfied with its artistry and depth – I didn’t feel the creepiness and intensity of it was gratuitous. It felt like it was making an important statement. We begin with the protagonist (model Lily Cole’s character) being burned at the stake, which is a jarring image. I find it very difficult to separate myself emotionally from things I watch (which is, I guess, why I don’t enjoy horror movies). To me, the thought of being burned to death is one of the most horrible things in the world. The look of shock and terror on Lily’s character’s face, combined with the jeers and smirks of the townspeople, is the kind of moment that leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach.
There is clearly a lot of blame in this scene – Lily is the scapegoat for the townspeople’s collective shame. Nothing like mass hysteria to turn a group of people into monsters. The religious imagery also brings up further meditations on shame, blame and redemption. This video asks “what is ‘sacrilege’? What are people capable of when they want to defend the concept of sanctity?”. This video shows the hypocrisy of people fighting for ‘morality’ – ironically, in persecuting a woman for sleeping around, the townspeople wind up committing murder – which is kind of a far worse crime, no? Does the bible not say “judge not, lest ye be judged”, and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? The townspeople are far from without sin; we see them all in sexual trysts with Lily’s character throughout the video. All in all, the video (and song) both strangely struck me as darker cousins of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. Something about the lyrical content, gospel harmonies and clapping (in the song), and sexual imagery and fire (in the video).
Although, after the second watching, I picked up on the fact that events were happening backwards, I find myself still in some debate and confusion over the video’s story. What were your thoughts on the plot and how events unfolded, Ari?
Ariana: It’s certainly a very intriguing video and unfolds more like a feature film than a regular music video. I felt like I was witnessing the story of an intricately woven crime thriller set in both modern and ancient times. The narrative is initially difficult to grasp as the video plays out in a rather stunted and inconsistent way. In the opening scene we see a group of silhouetted figures in a dark and isolated field walking towards the camera while a fire rages in the background. We see a young lady sitting over a masked man in the centre of this ring of fire with tears rolling down her cheeks. Fast forward to the final scene of the video and we see a beautiful and serene looking bride adorned in a delicate white lace wedding dress walking through a set of church doors (made evident by the large cross painted on them). The plot doesn’t seem to make much sense at all until you figure out that the story actually unfolds in reverse. Once you come to this realisation all the pieces fall into place. I think it’s a highly effective film technique and in a way portrays the sordid tale of the main character’s (Lily Cole) decline from what can be considered to be ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’ into the animalistic realms of desire, lust and sexual promiscuity – displayed through the various erotic sexual encounters she has throughout the video.
Overall, what’s your star power rating out of 10 Bec Wolfers?
Bec: Ari, I felt this was a really well done video – it asks some interesting questions, it looks great cinematically, it has a unique creative slant, and it evokes an emotional reaction from the viewer. ‘Sacrelige’ gets an 8 out of 10 star power rating from me. I’m strict with my star power 🙂
What would you give it?
Ariana: You certainly don’t give away that star power easily Ms. Wolfers 🙂
Both visually gripping and emotionally chilling, I think that the team from Megaforce have done a brilliant job with this video. With this said, I give ‘Sacrilege’ a pure and wholesome 8.5 star power out of 10.