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Updated by Kendra Brea Cooper on Feb 20, 2018
Headline for Dreams Keep Us Together: 10 Moves that Create "Afterlife" by Arcade Fire
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Dreams Keep Us Together: 10 Moves that Create "Afterlife" by Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire understands that the song itself is only part of what is created. Culture defines the song through creative efforts, people's perceptions, and certain attachments. Songs are unfinished works, they're never completed, and they only move through culture in different ways.

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Death

Death

There is an emptiness, like a silence where there shouldn't be in the waking parts of this video. The death of a loved one, especially a mother, creates holes not visible to the human eye. They're part of the tension in the opening conversation, the glance in the mirror, and the nightmares had by the younger son. The things that used to make sense just disappear into the quiet space where someone's heart was once beating

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Emily Kai Bock (The Director)

Emily Kai Bock (The Director)

Emily Kai Bock is a Toronto-based music video director known for her beauty in the way she points the lens. Among the many things she's created, she has filmed New York's underground hip-hop scene, and directed the Grimes video "Oblivion". She's managed to capture pure emotion in the length of a music video, and has pulled up those feelings usually forgotten for comfort.

The Afterlife Lyric Video

Arcade Fire uses clips from Marcel Camus' "Black Orpheus" in their lyric video for Afterlife. They use their music to enhance legendary stories, in the form of a tasteful montage. Arcade Fire pays tribute to this film by adding a bit of themselves to the story.

Dreaming

Dreams often feel like memories more than they feel like passing thoughts. They're tricky but comforting in the moments when we don't know we're dreaming. "Afterlife" displays this comfort and feeling of connection when we dream of our lost loved ones. They meet us when our eyes are closed.

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Life

Life

The teenage son is struggling away from the family, but it seems like it's not to separate himself from them, but to live life like a teenager. He ends up at a party, and eventually dreams of his mother while passed out on the grass. During the bus trip home, he dreams of her soft touch while she's holding him as if she's reminding him that things will be ok. In their dreams, their mother is all that life is while she touches, dances, and smiles.

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Family

Family

All three are struggling with this loss. Their mother was obviously a key part of holding this family together, and the tension is tight by the weight of that missing bond. The dreams prove that even in the deep subconscious, those bonds aren't broken and their nightly escapes help maintain connection in their waking lives.

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Religion

Religion

The dinner opens with prayers, the son's photo sits next to Jesus on a desk, and the teenage son watches a baptism (of his mother?) in a dream. The death of someone close often sparks thoughts of God and the afterlife. While alive, all we can tell of the afterlife, is in our thoughts, memories, and bittersweet dreams. We know for sure that they exist in those realms.

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Work

Work

There are representations of working class struggle, as this was a home likely supported by both parents, and is now run by a father doing the best he can. The father's light at the end of his working day tunnel was his wife, and this is apparent in his dreams of walking through a dark industrial work place to find her in the light.

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The Prism Prize

The Prism Prize

The Prism Prize is awarded to the best Canadian music videos, and "Afterlife" has received this award. The collaboration of Emily and Arcade Fire has produced one of the most beautiful music videos I've ever seen, and this accolade was totally deserved.

Spike Jonze and Greta Gerwig

Spike Jonze directed a live action music video of this song for the YouTube music awards. This is yet another famous director taking on this one song from Arcade Fire and adding visual life to it. He directs the Frances Ha star Greta Gerwig and gives us a fantastically choreographed expression of Afterlife.