‘Anima’ follows Thom Yorke in his solo journey from subway to bus while reminiscing Radiohead’s sound
It has opened up a whole new avenue for the streaming giant, Netflix, as the 15-minute long one reeler is the first music video to stream on the channel.
Conceptual short films not only helps decoding the musicians motif behind the arrangement of the track list to a particular album but is also an extremely worthwhile way of storytelling. As much as they deviate from the conventional storytelling pattern in short films where within a few minutes that ranges barely between 15 minutes to half an hour, the story- even if it follows the medias res order- has a beginning followed by a consequence resulting in a climax and thus leading to a suitable conclusion, conceptual short films mostly follow the one-reeler pattern.
A term mostly commonly used to talk about the era of silent films, one-reeler is defined as ‘a motion picture, especially a cartoon or comedy, of 10 to 12 minutes' duration and contained on one reel of film’. Earlier this year The Nationals released their eighth studio album, ‘I Am Easy To Find’, a 16-tracks long album which was accompanied by a movie that initially was not intended to be an accompanying film for the album. Coming from director Mike Mills, starring Alicia Vikander, the 24-minute short film followed a human’s life from birth to death as each track was used as the back ground score for every age. It was a perfect combination of The Nationals’ more mature installation along with Mills’ simplistic approach towards the many complications of life. The short film was released on YouTube, a streaming platform that has been supporting the release of conceptual short films for a very long time, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s work, ‘Anima’ deviated from doing so. Released on Netflix only yesterday, the 15-minute long one-reeler is an accompanying short film to Radiohead lead, Thom Yorke’s new single, ‘Anima’.
As Yorke stars along with the many dancers from Damien Gilet’s troupe we follow a man from travelling in a subway to finally finding himself on a bus at the break of dawn. In between there are four states of being that the man indulges in- a disturbed slumber, the excitement of an infatuation, the anxiety of not being with everyone in the race, and finally the serenity of letting go. For the entire 15-minutes that stretches out with actions and reactions, the frames overlap each other reflecting various moods of the character, represented by Yorker. On the other hand, we are briefly introduced to tracks like, ‘I Am A Very Rude Person’ and ‘Dawn Chorus’ each of which perfectly fit into their required holes as the character finds himself traversing from one state of mind to the other. While some tracks such as ‘I Am A Very Rude Person’, ‘Not the News’ and ‘Traffic’ continue with the signature eeriness of any Radiohead song, ‘Dawn Chorus’ is the purple patch that puts a closure to the daily humdrum associations between life and death.
‘Anima’ has many surprise elements to it, two being the leading causes of distraction- firstly, it is an album released by the lead singer of a band which is not at all at a point of their career where they need to churn out singles in order to regain their place (let’s admit Radiohead can easily pull off a packed auditorium without the pressure of playing “concert”-like music) and secondly, the short film was released on Netflix, a streaming channel that has been catering to audience of all moods. It can be said that with ‘Anima’, Netflix has achieved a milestone in its streaming history because the one-reeler is nothing less than a music video fittingly should be released on Youtube. However, because it has been released on Netflix let’s assume ‘Anima’ will receive an audience that perhaps ‘I Am Easy To Find’ will take another year to attract. For the longest time Netflix has been at war with several streaming giants, most of the time gallantly winning the war, but it has kept its hands off music videos letting VH1 and MTV be the sole channels for the type. However, once Martin Scorsese’s ‘Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story’ took plight, it seems Netflix is gradually making its way into the music industry as well.
This tells us a lot about the present state of the industry but more on that later. It is yet a matter of wonder how Yorke took it solely to himself to expand his work to the streaming platform whereas Radiohead as a band remained uninvolved. It could be the result of the unfinished business between Damien Gilet and Yorke the two minds that had accompanied Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 rendition of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic, ‘Suspiria’. Choreographed by Gilet on Yorke’s music the 2018 movie was a perfect tribute with its hauntingly beautiful music that remained faithful to the dronning cries of Goblin’s original score. In a conversation with Variety, Anderson had explained, “A lot of the premise of this comes from Thom and this choreographer Damien Jalet, who he worked with on “Suspiria.” They really got along on that and felt like they had unfinished business and still want to continue that collaboration. So I was kind of a third wheel to that. They knew they wanted to do something but weren’t quite clear about what it was. We knew we wanted it to be more than one song. So it just sort of tumbled forward, one thing after another. That’s really how it all came about. We started talking about it in December, and now here we are, in whatever it is — June! — it all came together quite quickly.”
The short film can be watched on Netflix.