Overdone, ostentatious, pretentious and egotistical. Kanye West’s half-hour short/extended music video is all these things, and more. And yet it’s still brilliant. Let me just say this quickly though: If you don’t like Kanye West or his music, then you probably won’t like Runaway. Part of the reason I love it so much is because of the songs, and so if My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy isn’t your cup of tea, then this isn’t for you.
Loosely following a story about a phoenix (played by model Selita Ebanks) that crashes to earth, the film portrays the blossoming relationship between West and this mythical bird. Set pieces are accompanied by the booming bass and auto-tuned singing of tracks off the 2010 album, and in my opinion the sounds and images work amazingly well together.
The phoenix has been interpreted as a metaphor for how Kanye West views his own career: that he has made mistakes in the past and been ripped apart by those around him, and now the time has come for him to either turn to stone, or burn and be reborn. Some people have chosen to mock this sentiment and brand him a narcissistic jerk, which is probably something he would admit to being anyway. The focus on the female form, and on dance and movement, can either be taken at face value or as an emphasis of West’s insatiable need to inspire people with his music. His beats and the notes of a piano travel through the women like shivers.
When I watch this film I tend to focus on the music: what it means to me and how it makes me feel. I let the visuals compliment what is essentially an insanely brilliant album, and tend not to focus too much on hidden meanings and symbols. Gorgeously shot, the highlights are most definitely the ballerinas dancing to titular song Runaway, and the concluding song (featuring vocals from Bon Iver) Lost in the World, where Kanye (literally) runs to save his new love.
FINAL VERDICT: ★★★★