Music Video Relapse: "Fell In Love With A Girl" (2002) by The White Stripes

Posted by Adam Fairholm on February 11, 2014 in Music Video Relapse

Staff Post

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For Music Video Relapse articles, sometimes it's fun to find a music video that is relevant to current events. For instance, if t.A.T.u. played at the Olympics opening ceremonies, how about looking back at a t.A.T.u. music video? And so on and so forth.

So today's relapse was pretty easy, since music video legend Michel Gondry released his first music video in three years today, and the number one movie in America right now is made entirely of Lego bricks. Hmm, I wonder if there is a Michel Gondry music video that uses Lego bricks.

Today on Music Video Relapse, we're watching "Fell In Love With A Girl" by The White Stripes, directed by Michel Gondry.

All of Michel Gondry's videos have a trademark cleverness to them - a quality that has made him so admired as a music video director and so well-suited to this medium. "Fell In Love With A Girl" is one of the purest examples of this - a music video that is simply made up of stop motion Lego bricks that simulate motion.

This concept work really well for a few reasons. One of them is that Gondry only used very basic bricks in a limited color scheme - Jack and Meg were not turned into little Lego figurines, but were instead turned into what amounts to highly pixelated versions of themselves. To add to the effect even more, at the time that "Fell In Love With a Girl" was released, The White Stripes were still in a period where they dressed in simple, solid colors, making them recognizable even with a very limited color palatte. They also dressed pretty much the same everywhere they went, making them easily turned into pixelated Lego cartoons.

Gondry varies the techniques used throughout the video as well. In some parts we simply have a lego wall with the bricks approximating a very pixelated screen, and in other parts we actually see the Lego bricks themselves from an angle. We also go from very rough brick approximations of Jack and Meg to very vivid, higher-resolution depictions from time to time. It's the variations on what can be done with a few simple Lego bricks that make this a video that manages to easily shed the label of being a gimmick video.

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A still from this video appears on the cover for the Director's Series Vol 3 - The Work of Michel Gondry, and since there was a director's commentary done for this video for the DVD, we have some additional insight into it. One story from the DVD is that The White Stripes contacted the LEGO Group before the video's release to see if a small Lego set could be packaged with each single as a tie in with the video. LEGO refused - until the video became a huge hit. They came back to Jack White to strike a deal, but Jack turned them down. I guess he holds a grudge.

Gondry also has said that one section is computer animated, and if you watch the video, it seems relatively obvious it is the shot that starts around 1:22 and features noticeably more fluid animation (at least that's our guess).

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At this point in his career, Gondry had been making music videos for 14 years, and with this video I think he found a band and an image that cemented his status as a legendary music video director in the minds of many people growing up outside of the early heyday of music videos in the 80s and 90s. For those of us whose first era of music discovery was the 2000s, Gondry was a director who was doing incredibly creative things with artists who were relevant and vital at the time. With 2000-era music video milestones like "Fell In Love With A Girl," I think many of my generation started to see music videos as an art form instead of commercials for songs.

Oh, and that's Michel Gondry's son at the beginning of the video. It's customary to always mention that when writing about this video.

Side note: If you want to see some of the bricks from this music video in person and you are in Australia, check out Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition which will be running until February 23rd at the Australian Center For The Moving Image. Here is a vine with the bricks in it from when Doug visited Spectacle in 2013 in NYC.

Adam Fairholm is the co-founder and lead developer of IMVDb. You can find him on twitter at @adamfairholm.



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