Take $10,000, a piano solo, a well-known actor, dead butterflies and a director with no limits and what results would be Sigur Rós’s new music video for “Fjögur Piano.” Apart from the full-frontal nudity, which keeps in tune with the theme of vulnerability in a relationship, the video explores drug addiction, domestic violence and untamed desire, all in seven minutes. Sigur Rós, an Icelandic band since 1994, has been exploring the idea of a giving their music video’s filmmakers full disclosure with their music and Fjögur Piano is the second video released from the album valtari, released in May of this year.
The 26-year-year Shia LaBeouf actually volunteered for the video after he contacted the director, Alma Har’el, once he saw her documentary, “Bombay Beach.” The “Transformers” star, alongside actress Denna Thomsen, opens the video by unwrapping a previously bloodied hand and embracing a dead butterfly, said to symbolize the beautiful but short-lived existence of any given relationship.
As I watched the video unfold, swaying slightly to the piano pieces that played, the nudity, which I was forewarned about several times, was not only short-lived, but almost unnoticeable. The couple stands face-to-face completely naked, and as the video continues, I found the symbolism of it all hitting me in the face. It was the helplessness of being in love, the regret hidden underneath every hurtful word spoken, and the passion that struggles to return after every fight. “The things you can’t say in words are best said in dance,” admits Har’el, who was given unlimited freedom for the creation and evolution of the video. As LaBeouf and Thomsen dance skillfully in front of an open window, I’m reminded of how the private matters of a relationship are seldom that; private matters become public, especially in an age where Facebook and Twitter are essential for self-expression and more often than not, wielded like a weapon.
What is becoming more apparent in music videos today is that symbolism speaks louder than obvious actions. A glance, a gesture, even an interpretive dance is a sign of how music has evolved from what some considered pornography with a dance beat, to artistic expression. The actors’ nudity, what was once the hottest aspect of the video, is now seen as imaginative and goes without recognition. It’s not to sell a product or suggest lewd behavior; it’s merely a reminder that when dealing with love, there are no rules.