Apparently one of the fringe benefits of dating a world-class filmmaker is taking advantage of his talents for your music videos. During their several years together, Paul Thomas Anderson directed half a dozen videos for Fiona Apple and every one is special.
Among my favorites are the big-band dance number he staged for the ‘Paper Bag’ video and today’s selection, a black-and-white short for her cover of The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe.’
Apple covered the song for the Pleasantville soundtrack. Pleasantville is one of those movies that feels like it should be so much better than it actually is. It has a stellar cast, a thought-provoking plot and incredible visuals — the conceit is that a modern brother and sister enter the black and white 50s suburbia of a favorite TV show and begin to introduce color (literally) into the inhabitant’s lives. The results are messy, as passions flare up where before there was only cold perfection.
This video plays off a scene in the film where a mob attacks the diner owned by a man who has dared to embrace the “colored” people (there is a racial allegory in the film that at times get a bit heavy-handed). Note the cameo by actor John C. Reilly at the end (he’s the guy pulling the record out of the jukebox).
As for the song… well, everybody knows the song.