By Mae Anthony
Last week acclaimed indie rock band Florence + the Machine released their debut short film The Odyssey. It was directed by Vincent Haycock, who has been involved in music videos and projects with artists such as U2 in “Song For Someone” (2015), Paul McCartney in “Early Days” (2014) and Lana Del Rey in “West Coast” (2014), and was written by Haycock, and the incredible lead-singer and major contributor of the band’s song material, Florence Welch.
The short film is a series of music videos based on nine of the eleven tracks from the band’s latest album release How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015), each being a chapter of a narrative. This is Florence Welch’s odyssey: her voyage from the wreckage of a messy car-crash of a break up, where we see her walk through a hellish storm battling loss, anger, pain, and a hint of madness.
The beauty of this piece is in the way each chapter flows despite its non-linear and, at times, non-sensible “plot”. All the same, it is a clear journey, with its often ambiguous events leaving me more curious with each passing moment. I’d describe it is a masterpiece about love, what it is to lose yourself when you lose someone else, and a visual and auditory extraordinaire of a film. The visual scenery is both breathtaking and transforming, with visual metaphors that create a unique filler for the lack of dialogue. Not once did I find myself missing the presence of verbal communication. The events were explored flawlessly by the visual direction of the scenes and the non-linear storylines held my attention captive like a predator, playing with its prey.
Something worth noting that struck my attention rather profoundly was in chapter seven in which Florence sings an a cappella version of “Mother”, the final track from the album. It follows the previous scene in which Florence is sailing away from her man, battling a brewing storm over the sea in which she must reluctantly travel through. In this scene the light seeps in through a fence, and a low, quiet, suburban street buzz hums in the background to her lonely vibrant tune. Together these are a metaphor for the way life just goes on despite whatever happens, and with every pain, we shed our calloused and torn skin, and refresh ourselves. Just like the day refreshes itself with each revolving sun. This is just one of the many glorious moments in the film, hidden amongst the shady branches of metaphor and music.
A story of love and loss, and a deeply-rooted resistance to change and relationship decay, there is plenty to gain from this masterful artistic story. The music is an almost epistolary form of narrative delivery, and as is the purpose of music in movies, adds a substantially thick layer of the overall emotional consignment to the audience.
You can watch The Odyssey below