The famed filmmakers used their talents and surrealist sensibilities to craft what a “model village” may look like and, in the process, satirize the “fishbowl mentality” within a small community. Villagers are represented by cartoon pigs who act violently toward each other and waste away the day with meaningless activities.
“I hated growing up in a city that was really a town that was really a fishbowl,” Idles frontman Joe Talbot says. “I left as soon as I could, only to realize the fishbowl didn’t exist…just the fish, and they’re everywhere.”
According to Michel Gondry, the video was put together in a matter of weeks in his L.A. studio, where he painstakingly created characters and settings using hand-drawn designs on paper, cut them out and filmed them with his iPhone. He then sent the footage to his brother Olivier in Paris, who brought the collages to life using CGI.
“Olivier and I were excited to work on this because we use completely opposite techniques,” Michel Gondry says. “I work with a primitive system of cutting paper and moving it under the lens frame by frame. Olivier then transforms it by morphing, warping and CGI…Basically, in the first part we try to illustrate the lyrics as close as possible, to create the world, and then in the second half…they go to the moon.”
For Olivier Gondry, the cutout paper animation “adds a childlike look to it, a child’s point of view looking at his own town. It is accentuated by all the headless kids we see in the story. I also find this in the way the song was written — all these repetitions. When you look at the lyrics, it looks a bit like a children’s book, each sentence finishing by ‘The Village.'”
Talbot adds: “Michel’s work is handmade and it’s human and that’s something that our society pushes against: You need to be perfect. You need to look perfect and everything needs to be seamless and strong. But, actually, vulnerability and naivety are strengths. To be vulnerable and to be naive is to have empathy. And so, to empathize with your adversaries and allow yourself to be naked on film or on record is a really strong thing to do. It liberates you and it also liberates your audience. That’s something that I hope that Idles can do and that Gondry’s been doing for years.”
“Model Village” will appear on Idles’ new album, Ultra Mono, out September 25th via Partisan.