15 May 2013

Though often classified as surreal there are few truly surrealistic moments in Michel Gondry's music video Bachelorette (1997), even though it contains all of his stark ‘90s hallmarks: Alice in Wonderland size shifting, pantomime clockwork mechanisms, and the theme of the meta. It's a Russian doll of narratives wrapped up inside itself similar to the work of writer Charlie Kaufman with whom Gondry collaborated on 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Kaufman’s own 2008 film Synecdoche, New York also shares many of this video’s themes.

Remembering one scene from Gulliver's Travels, the hero is surrounded by a group of giant ladies and is repulsed by their moles and hairs that appear to him disgustingly magnified by perspective. Likewise, in Gondry’s Bachelorette, it's the increasing attention to detail within the unfolding drama that begins to magnify and intensify how the characters are viewed or even view themselves. At one point the Bachelorette's boyfriend/publisher becomes so disgusted by the caricature of himself on stage that he breaks his relationship off entirely.

There's an argument to be made that the video pastiches celebrity relationships breaking down under media pressure. More and more this seems to become reality: tell-all television shows that propel a figure into our homes, they inevitably crash under media scrutiny and finally make a majestic comeback complete with a book deal. These people are living just to keep telling and selling their story.

Michel Gondry raises theses taxing questions and much more in his own instantly recognisable style in the video for Björk’s Bachelorette.

The Art of Pop Video is at FACT until 26 May.