Monday, November 26, 2012

Visual Review 10: Beyoncé "Countdown"

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This video sees the "Run The World (Girls)" singer paying homage to different movies, musicals and icons of the 1950s through the 1990s. Directed by Adria Petty, Knowles shows off her baby bump while dancing around in colorful leotards to this upbeat love anthem. Most of the effects in this video were applied after the music video was shot. The video has faced controversy for ripping off choreographer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, and some of her pieces.

The video opens with a close shot of Knowles as she begins to sing the song. Her hair and makeup are reminiscent of English model, Twiggy. A lot of the effects used play with the coloring and the lighting seen throughout the video. The next shot is a full body-shot of Knowles moving her arms like a clock. The clip here appears to have been sped up. We have simple black and white lines falling into and out of the frame that serves as a background image. The black and white is also reflected in her outfit she is seen in. The video then splits into multiple frames as Beyoncé begins to countdown in her song. The video cuts between mid-shots and fast moving, slim frames showing her full figure. Then we are shown the black loafers and white socks (referencing Michael Jackson) and the dance moves are similar to that of Audrey Hepburn in the film, FunnyFace.

A lot of the post-shooting effects added are cuts of Beyoncé in bright colored bathing suits. She also wears a black and white hat and these shots are set against a colored background that constantly changes. In this mid-close ups Knowles showcases her baby bump. This frame then splits in two, again. Then we are taken to an audition space--the entire video is shot in a New York warehouse--where we are shown wide shots of Knowles and her dancers referencing the 1980's movie, Fame. We also see symmetrical shots where there are two frames created showing the same image, and as she turns and as the dancers move, we see two bodies moving towards the center.

One of the next scenes is a extreme wide shot of 10 different versions of Beyoncé dancing to the countdown in the loft space. While researching for the video, MTV Newsroom stated that this shot is "the key scene where [she] puts all her aforementioned sides into perspective" (MTV). Throughout the video we stick with this mod, black and white color scheme seen through the background, clothing and space of the loft. Then we are thrown splashes of vibrant colors reminiscent of the 60s. Among the many references in this music video, we have yet another when the video cuts to shots of Knowles in a men's dress shirt with her hair tied up with a scarf: Bridget Bardot. These shots contrast well with the soft colors used in the background and from the dress shirts. These wide shots are split and fall out of the scene to take us back to the wide warehouse audition space. Channeling Diana Ross from Dreamgirls (more post-shooting effects with the double frame meshed to look there are two Beyoncé's. This shot is also split into three frames where we have lines moving in the background, again staying with the black and white color scheme), snap choreography reminiscent of West Side Story, and finally more wide shots of dancing around the loft space with the off the shoulder top taking us back to Flashdance. Fast moving frames and close-ups of the singer are basically the entirety of the video.

There are rarely any actual camera moves except for the ending--it's hard to tell if when she's sitting in the chair if the camera is doing a dolly-out or if it's more of a zoom-out. The camera is pretty static throughout. This music video relies on the visuals, movement and looks of the singer to really pull it off. I think despite the controversy that it was a success.


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