DAVID reviews

17 November 2017

Alt-J: Pleader

by Alice May

Alt-J: “Pleader” - 6 mins 33s

Alt-J's promos are ambitious and clever, and this promo for album closer 'Pleader' continues the trend.

Made by celebrated director Isiah Seret, it interweaves the song's central theme - a revisiting of Richard Llewellyn's novel 'How Green Was My Valley' - with elements of the supernatural and the dread of impending war.

There's a surreal quality to it which captivates and draws us in. Are the decisions in this tiny Welsh mining community reached via superstition or past experience? Is the evidence of telekinesis in the unborn child a sign of power for good, or of malevolence?

John Lynch's cinematography (and Simone Grattarola's grading) is beautiful, and the way the apocalyptic explosion is realised halfway through is stunning. We don't know the nature of the plummeting arc of fire - possibly a missile, possibly a punishment from the heavens - but it destroys the village with a violence that invokes Pompeii.

One viewing isn't enough. At the end, we are aware there have been cues along the way which we haven't properly registered, and that we need to watch again to better comprehend the narrative.

This crypticness enriches the film. We're used to being spoonfed the meaning of things these days; so it's a pleasure to watch something complex and multilayered, requiring time and effort to reveal its depths.

Commissioner: Andrew Law
Film Production: Biscuit Filmworks Ⓟ Ⓦ
Director: Isaiah Seret Ⓦ
Cinematography: John Lynch (repped in the UK by Lux Artists)
Production Design: Marie Lanna
Costume Design: Mr Gammon
Editor: Stewart Reeves @ Work Ⓦ
Post Production: Time Based Arts Ⓦ
VFX: Bernardo Varela / Ralph Brisco
VFX Shoot S'visor: Sheldon Gardner
Colourist: Simone Grattarola @ Time Based Arts Ⓦ
Animation VFX: Mike Batcock / Ben Cantor
Sound Designer: Jon Clarke @ Factory Ⓦ
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