Music Video Review: "Lover of the Light" by Mumford & Sons Starring Idris Elba
Spoiler Alert: Please watch the video before reading the review for the best experience. Then I would recommend going back and watching it again after reading my review. Thank you.
Written and Directed by: Idris Elba
Starring: Idris Elba (The Wire, Prometheus)
Yesterday, the new music video for Mumford and Sons was released, and it is a stunning masterpiece. To me, it stands alone as a short film. Written and directed by one of the most talented actors working today, Idris Elba, the video is layered and complex. Elba is able to say so much with his body and his face without having to say a word. As the video begins, Elba wakes to a new day. Immediately, the viewer senses that something is different about him. He seems to be literally consuming his surroundings with his senses: touch, smell, hearing, taste. As he prepares his breakfast, he takes two plates from the cupboard. As he poaches his two eggs, the camera focuses on his fingers as they hover above the boiling water as if to test the temperature. He grinds his coffee in an old fashioned grinder and again, we see his hands as they perform the task. He takes the freshly ground coffee to his nose and inhales the wonderful aroma that we can almost smell ourselves as we watch. As he eats his breakfast, we see that he is talking to someone, laughing, telling a story. But he is alone. My interpretation is that he has suffered the loss of his spouse, but still likes to talk to her as he goes about his day, a practice that I understand is not uncommon.
Interspersed with the scenes of Elba in his home, we see him on a beach touching the sand, laughing with abandon as if suddenly he has been set free. There is beautiful, majestic deer in the woods as well. Then we see Elba begin to wash his face, not even looking up into the mirror. He begins to dress in a careful and precise manner, touching his shirt, jackets, and ties before choosing the perfect one. He buffs his shoes as his eyes look into the distance. As he does this, we watch his face and something there tells of his loneliness, his pain, and pulls at our hearts. And then it all becomes clear to us: he is blind.
Elba, who is sighted in real life, manages to pull off something that others before him have failed to do: he has managed to convey that he cannot see even when in life, he really can. He doesn't use the usual props so common to actors portraying a visually impaired character. Even as we look into his eyes, we now that they cannot see. The light isn't there, the intensity of focus is gone.
He is clearly preparing for something important. And as he leaves the door of his home after one of the most touching scenes with his beloved dog, he decides to leave his cane behind. His home is in the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen, and he begins to run, guiding himself by grazing his hand along a stone wall. Running over some hills, he enters the woods and comes face to face with the deer. As he running blindly among the trees and rocks chasing the deer, he narrowly escapes the path of a speeding car without even realizing that he has come close to dying. He doesn't seem to care. He has a destination and will not stop until he is there. The music builds into a crescendo as we see that he is running full tilt toward the edge of a cliff. Will he stop or will he run straight into the ocean below? I cry with him as he realizes that he's found the place he sought, all on his own, following only his heart and his senses to get there.
I am not a fan of the majority of music videos that are produced today, but as a film buff and a huge fan of Mumford and Sons, I decided to give this a try. And I am so grateful that I did. I even sat down with my 6 year old son (a boy who is quite sensitive and perceptive) to watch it. I watched his face as he watched the video. As he took in each scene, he began to piece it together that Elba was "seeing" with his hands, his nose, his ears. He was completely enthralled as he watched him run dangerously through the woods and was nearly undone when he thought he might run off the cliff. And most amazingly of all was his reaction when I told him that Idris Elba isn't really blind but just acting. I was able to experience the wonder of true talent all over again through the eyes of my innocent son. And it made me know why I love films and music and books. And this is why I write this blog.
I hope you are as moved by this video (short film) as I was. Thank you for stopping by and getting buzzed!