Reflexivity in Bachelorette (Michel Gondry, 1997)

This video demonstrates, through adopting a complex reality, moments of conscious reflexivity, encouraging the viewer to actively consider the form of the music video, and film itself.  These moments of reflexivity are achieved through a number of stylistic decisions, largely through the addition of freeze-frames, an onstage musical, and the use of a book, the use of which determines the events of the video itself.

The video begins with Björk finding a book in a forest. As she finds the book, she describes through a voice-over the events as they occur. Once the music begins the book itself is frequently shown onscreen, with the writing (correlating to the video’s events) clearly depicted. Allowing the viewer to explicitly view the events of the video in such a manner forces analysis, and thus reflexivity, in turn encouraging the viewer to question the video’s events and even attempt to interpret them. The use of the book breaks down our concept of reality: this reality appears pre-determined.

The later use of the freeze-frames encourages reflexivity in a number of ways: the very function of a freeze-frame encourages close analysis and contemplation, and in turn slows down the video itself, further allowing for moments of reflection. The use of these freeze-frames compels the viewer to consider the individual frame itself, and in turn the manner in which these frames together create the video.

The video’s most obvious moment of reflexivity comes in the form of the on-stage musical, the use of which provides much of the video’s narrative. This onstage musical encourages reflexivity through the obvious manner in which it makes the viewer consider issues of performance, whilst highlighting issues of spectatorship.

Onstage Björk re-enacts the video’s earlier moments: showing these moments effectively decontextualised further emphasises the need for reflexivity, encouraging the viewer to consider the events of the video, ensures that the viewer is encouraged to consider the act of viewing itself. Whilst Björk is seen onstage, the camera frequently focuses upon the musical’s audience, reminding the viewer of the role that they themselves engage within. The musical, when depicting earlier moments of the video, portrays the moment that Björk, upon arriving in the city, meets with a publisher. Depicting this moment further reinforces both reflexivity and the opportunity to reflect upon issues of performance and spectatorship. Thus the publisher’s eventual distaste at witnessing the numerous actors portraying his role onstage highlights the very role we ourselves undertake as viewers, with his reaction seemingly indicating the reaction we ourselves should have.

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