Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.E.M.’s “Imitation Of Life” video deconstructed

R.E.M.'s "Imitation of Life"

The music video for R.E.M.’s 2001 Reveal single “Imitation Of Life” is a cool bit of trick filming, where only 20 seconds of action is recorded and then shown backward and forward and backward again, with varying elements within the busy scene magnified for the viewer’s attention. It all looks very cool and complex when paired with the song, with different members of the cast mouthing the lyrics in sync with the recording; notable events include one dude catching on fire, a lady throwing her drink in another’s face, and frontman Michael Stipe gyrating as only he can.

Out of what seems to be plain curiosity, Graeme Bowman wanted to see if the 20 seconds of action is ever shown in its entirety in the video’s wide view within the nearly four-minute running time. It isn’t, so Bowman tried to fill in the gaps with the pulled-in bits.


Even more interesting, though, is when Bowman freezes Garth Jennings’s original video and uses a black rectangle to float through the scene to show where the video focus appears at any given moment. The effect is a greater appreciation for the vision of the original director, assembling a song’s worth of action in just a short amount of time.

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