Cinematic music Videos: Animal/Batman (1989)

Tim Burton's Batman is a milestone for me in my development as a film lover. It was released in 1989 and I have never forgotten the experience. That was a huge year for film hype and everyone was on board. Today we take for granted hype for movies and have somewhat become desensitized to it.

A Big part of the film, was the cross promotion with Prince doing several key songs to be used throughout the film. Because of this concept, we were treated to a few wonderful music videos from "His Royal Badness" as well as the iconic scene of Jack Nicholson as The Joker gassing visitors of the Gotham Museum of Art (The Flugelheim) before he and his thugs repaint and destroy several of the priceless works of art within the museum. It is a musical interlude worthy of the archvillian and the film seems to stop just for him. Maybe some day I'll do an entire review soley devoted to this incarnation of The Dark Knight.

In all honesty, when I first saw The Neon Trees video for Animal, I was surprised that no had before copied the museum scene from Batman. It's too perfect for homage and yet this upstart band was the first to do so. The video itself does a good job of evoking the scene while doing its own thing with it. Instead of killing the visitors of the museum, the band gasses them making them pass out before turning into mutated humans with animal heads. The Neon Trees start to destroy and paint over the modern art before the new animal people get up and start to dance to their music.

The whole video has a kinetic energy that goes along great with the song. It has a low budget, creative hand-made look that I think makes the video more than just an homage to Batman. In fact the video stops being an homage and turns into something new once the animal people stand up and start dancing. The stop motion face-painting transformations of the museum crowd were creative and charming. I also really enjoyed the small moment where the lead singer stops a fellow band mate from destroying a painting. This scene in particular mirrors the scene where The Joker keeps Bob from destroying the Bacon painting because "Kinda likes it." Even though this video is low budget and only bares the slightest relation to Batman, I think it does better making the concept its own instead aping the film verbatim.

On a personal note: While I think Ledger's Joker was amazing, Nicholson and Keaton are and will be forever my Joker and Batman. If you disagree, that's cool, you just may be a little too young to understand.

-Rob Out.