LOS ANGELES - British rock
act Radiohead is pumping new life into its second
album, "The Bends," with a ground-breaking video for "Just" that combines
art-house cinema sensibilities and subtitles with a mysterious climax that
leaves people floored - literally.
In the clip, members of Radiohead
perform in a high-rise apartment complex.
Singer Thom Yorke is drawn to the window when he hears a commotion on the
street below, and he sees a well-dressed, middle-aged businessman lying on the
sidewalk. A pedestrian stumbles over the man and asks him (via subtitles) if
he has fallen. The man replies that he has not fallen, but that he simply has
decided to lie down on the sidewalk.
A curious crowd forms around
the man and makes many inquiries about his
physical and mental health. The man requests that the people disperse, but
they refuse to leave him alone. As the crowd grows, the inquiries shift from
concern to extreme curiosity as to why a man would deliberately lie down in
the middle of the sidewalk. Even a police officer cannot solicit a reasonable
answer from the man, who only responds, "You don't want to know, please
It's as if the man knows
something that the rest of the world does not.
Finally, at the end of the video, he agrees to reveal the reason for his
seemingly insane action. However, as he begins to explain, the subtitles
The viewer does not discover
his secret, which has made an incredible impact
on the crowd in the clip. As the camera pulls back from the man on the
sidewalk, it reveals that the people surrounding the man have also fallen to
In the clip's original edit,
performance footage of the band is interspersed
throughout the theatrical sequences. However, there are two additional edits
of the video, which separate the performance and movie-like sequences.
"The original works best
because it builds an incredible tension that is never
resolved," says Yorke. "We all decided that we would never tell anybody about
the 'meaning' of the end of the clip."
Capitol video VP of visual
promotion Linda Ingrisano says that the man's
response is not even written in the script for the video, which is a
production of Oil Factory.
"I've had more inquiries
about this clip than any other in my entire career,"
says Ingrisano. "It's almost as if the clip touches on the secret to life in
MTV began playing the clip
Oct. 10 and designated it as a Breakthrough Video
because of its "strong technical or visual effects or creative vision," says
MTV senior VP of programming and music Andy Schuon.
"This could get people excited
about the album again," says Schuon. "It
certainly isn't a run-of-the-mill video."
Radiohead entrusted new video
director Jamie Thraves to the task of creating
the clip, despite his relative inexperience in the genre.
Before this project, Thraves
had directed only a handful of short films, but
no major-label music videos. The risk has paid off, according to Yorke.
"We left the song in very
capable hands," he says. "Jamie was free of the
constraints of the typical video formula. He shot the video the way he wanted
Thraves says that he had
envisaged the clip as a short film, rather than a
conventional music video.
"I felt like the visuals
had to stand on their own," says Thraves, who also
shot the forthcoming clip for "Toes Across The Floor" by Blind Melon. "It was
always my ambition to shoot something as narrative as possible within the
context of a music video. Using subtitles seemed like a natural way to achieve
this, since the words do not compete with the actual vocals of the song."
Thraves says he is realizing
the impact of the clip, as more people ask him
why the man is lying down in the street.
His only reply: "You don't want to know, please believe me."