Sofia Coppola and "Chloroform"
By Dara Block
I don't know about you, but when I found out Sofia Coppola had directed the video for Phoenix's song "Chloroform," off their latest Bankrupt! album, I immediately thought to myself that this was long overdue. After all, Sofia Coppola had featured Phoenix's music in practically all of her films... who could forget the way Phoenix's song "Too Young" was used in Lost In Translation or the brilliant Phoenix score featured in her 2010 film Somewhere. It's pretty clear that Phoenix and Sofia Coppola share similar creative connections both musically and cinematically, so this collaboration was bound to happen.
Out of all the songs off the Bankrupt! album I feel like "Chloroform" seems the most Sofiaesque. I remember when I first heard this song I thought to myself this will probably be featured in her next movie. Perhaps, I jumped the gun on that.... but I love that she chose this song to direct a video for. I feel like this one was made for her... so on that note, let's take a closer look at "Chloroform"!
The video starts out a Phoenix concert, we see the band at first on stage performing, but we don't see them quite so clear. Phoenix appears through dark shadows and silhouettes, which definitely adds a bit of mystery and a noir sensibility to the video.
Shortly after, the camera draws away from the band to focus on the teen girls in the audience at the concert. We see the girls with tears in their eyes crying for the band and one fan even faints in the audience. Personally, I think this is a brilliant concept and I think Sofia Coppola beautifully depicts the idea of longing and celebrity worship. A current theme that seems very prevalent in her work these days.... her film The Bling Ring also comes to mind. I think this video brings about many thoughts. I know when I go to concerts, especially with male bands, I seem to always spot girls who go insane with excitement. I too, sometimes, think about fans and what makes them go so bananas, especially at music venues. It's clear that Sofia Coppola was very much inspired by that idea. I don't know why, but I could totally see her as a teen going to concerts and feeling a sense of longing. Perhaps I am overanalyzing, but I always feel like she uses her teenage self as inspiration for many of her film projects.
However you choose to interpret it, I was so excited that Sofia Coppola revealed her main source of artistic inspiration for "Chloroform." Interestingly, I recently read that last year Thomas Mars sister's boyfriend gave Sofia Coppola a copy of Joseph Sterling's book The Age of Adolescence and she became intrigued by many of the photos of young girls featured inside. If you look through the images you can definitely see how his interpretation of teen girls inspired Sofia Coppola and her direction for the video. I don't know why, but I always love it when Sofia Coppola reveals her influences. I think it definitely adds a little bit of intrigue to her work. As a viewer, when I watch the video I see some visual elements reminding me of her first short film Lick the Star and also some moments of Beatlemania thrown in there, too.
At any rate, I guess it is safe to say that "Chloroform" is a total teen girl fantasy video with so many artistic inspirations... much like all her other films and if you haven't seen this one, do yourself a favor and check it out. Hopefully, there will be more Phoenix and Sofia Coppola artistic collaborations in the future, but as of now, "Chloroform" is an excellent start!
Phoenix images courtesy of Phoenix