Kanye West – Runaway Review/Video (Uncensored)

The internet is abuzz about Kanye’s short film/music video “Runaway” a visual tour de force that tells the story of a Pheonix and is a not so subtle metaphor for Kanye’s return to the spotlight.  Kanye says he was influenced by directors like George Lucas, Felini, Kubrik and that he wanted to create a landscape for the tracks that normally wouldn’t see the light of day in terms of a music video production.  With breathtaking costumes, picturesque sets, CGI it’s got it all.  Props to the costume design of Phillip Lim & Martin Izqueirdo, the art director Vanessa Beecroft, and the cinematographer Kyle Kibbe.  They did Yeoman’s work on this project. Kanye is credited as a “Director” and legendary Hip Hop music video director Hype Williams is credited as a writer.  As a filmmaker myself I am always leery of artist throwing their weight around to don the directors cap. A common practice in the music video world where the label often kowtows to the artist’s every whim. However in this film I do see Kanye’s heavy hand at work.

This wouldn’t be a Kanye video if it didn’t have some controversy just for controversy’s sake.  As in a scene where whites play a subservient role to blacks.  This video however brilliant visually has allot of glaring holes technically that I chalk up to Kanye’s inexperience as a director. Take for example the main dinning sequence where he performs Lets Give a Toast to the Douchebags. The camera cranes up and down incessantly falling in love with it’s own creation.  I became so aware of the camera moves that I started to notice that the dancers were strenuously trying to hold their stances.  This broke the illusion for me.  I am a big believer in always keeping the audience wanting more.  Instead I found myself glancing at the timeline. Knowing when to take the brush off the canvas is a discipline Kanye lacks as a filmmaker.

I loved the dance sequence even if the Hip Hop influence in the solo performances were a bit much.  The acting in this video was a major distraction and clearly ran a far second to the visuals.  Victoria Secret model Selita Ebanks who plays the Pheonix does a decent job, however the supporting cast and Kanye himself were stiff and unconvincing in the few lines that they had to deliver.  These kind of oversights can be expected on a project where a strong willed director with a strong vision is surrounded by yes-men.

In the end Runaway is unlike anything I have ever seen in the music video realm and I would watch this video again and again however self indulgent and narcissistic it is.  However I think that the distinction between a music video and a film needs to be made here. Without these distinctions artist turned directors will never become disciplined enough to bring out the true potential their very unique ideas can offer us.

Enjoy
Trevz

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