So, if you haven't seen it...here's the clip:
The song is “Wait” by French synthpop group M83. It appears on their album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”. I’ve never heard of this group before, but this song is just perfect for the clip. It starts slow and gradually builds and has an ethereal sound to it. I imagine choosing the song is a very critical step in the process of producing a video like this as the images have to be presented and hung off of the music.
The video was produced by TCM’s Christian Hammann and shot/edited by Scott Lansing of Sabotage Film Group. As Scott Lansing said in a tweet, Ms. Hammann “killed it.” I concur. I’ve been watching these for about twelve years now and I didn’t think TCM would be able to top the 2003 production, but I think this one has.
I loved the concept of the drive-in theater. And I loved that they showed film clips and stills on the drive-in theater screen before maximizing them to the frame. Some great special effects were done with back-lit screens and flood-lit trees and night skies with stars, etc in the background when we see the images on drive-in screen.
The concept of regeneration is prevalent here. We initially see a weathered and deserted drive-in theater. Rusted fences, it’s fall. Initially there’s a real sense of decay here. What perfect imagery for the end of a career/life. When the drive-in theater lights come on and the projection room ‘comes to life’, you get a sense that even though this is an old and decaying place, there is life here. Which makes me think that even though these people have passed, their lives will be remembered in their work.
As usual, the editing and timing to the music are excellent. Take for example the following moments:
- When the birds take flight on cue with the music
- When Davy Jones steps back to the beat of the music
- When there is a drum fill in the music and we see Levon Helm
These things were all nicely done and thought through with an eye to the details.
Some great shots:
- Andy Griffith hanging off the side of the train as it pulls out of the station, with a big smile on his face...hat in hand. What a great image.
- Some of the ‘Instagram focus’ effects (for lack of a better word) where the full image is all in focus, then we zoom into the primary person and the edges become blurred.
- The opening of the cigar box from title sequence of To Kill a Mockingbird, transitioning to light/shadow on the snack-bar wall as if light were coming out of the cigar box. A simple and powerful image (around the 3:05 mark) that even continues to a clip from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- The shots where there is an image on the drive-in screen and the screen and trees are back-lit are amazing (see around 3:20 mark, also recurs at the 4:21, 4:31 and 4:55 marks)
- The concept of light streaming *into* the projection equipment and up and out of the building. I thought of this as a ‘reversal of cinematic love’ concept. Normally the image goes out of the projector and onto a screen, here it’s like we (or something) is sending that love (light) back into the camera and up into space. Maybe I'm overthingking it...whatever it means it’s well done, thought-provoking and beautiful.
- The time-lapse photography of stars and trees is so beautiful
- The still shot of Nora Ephron is great because Meg Ryan is in the background (slightly blurred, but recognizable) and they worked together on some great films.
- As usual, they save the best for last...Ernest Borgnine at the end puts me over the edge each time I watch this. And they chose two great clips: the first from Marty when Clara breaks down and cries on his shoulder and the second from The Wild Bunch.
Here’s the complete list of fifty-five people who appear in the video:
- Andy Griffith / actor
- R.G. Armstrong / actor
- Alex Karras / actor
- Theodoros Angelopoulos / director
- Peter Breck / actor
- Keiko Tsushima / actress
- Christopher Challis / cinematographer
- Tony Scott / director/producer
- Andy Williams / singer
- Mel Stuart / director
- Lupe Ontiveros / actress
- Hal David / lyricist
- Phyllis Diller / comedian/actress
- Phyllis Thaxter / actress
- Eileen Moran / visual effects producer
- Albert Freeman Jr. / actor
- James Farentino / actor
- Ray Bradbury / writer
- Frank Pierson / screenwriter
- Andrew Sarris / film critic
- Russell Means / actor
- Tonino Guerra / screenwriter
- Isuzu Yamada / actress
- Nicol Williamson / actor
- Ann Rutherford / actress
- Erland Josephson / actor
- Ben Gazzara / actor
- Susan Tyrrell / actress
- Whitney Houston / singer/actress
- William Windom / actor
- J. Michael Riva / production designer
- Denise Darcel / actress
- Frederica Sagor Maas / screenwriter
- Turhan Bey / actor
- Robert Sherman / songwriter
- Stephen Frankfurt / design director
- Ralph McQuarrie / conceptual designer/illustrator
- Tony Martin / singer/actor
- Davy Jones / singer/actor
- Levon Helm / actor/musician
- Marvin Hamlisch / composer
- Jonathan Frid / actor
- Celeste Holm / actress
- Bruce Surtees / cinematographer
- William Asher / director/producer
- Larry Hagman / actor
- Gore Vidal / writer/actor
- Herbert Lom / actor
- Bob Anderson / sword master
- Carlo Rambaldi / special effects artist
- Nora Ephron / screenwriter/director
- Michael Clarke Duncan / actor
- Chris Marker / director
- Richard D. Zanuck / producer
- Ernest Borgnine / actor
I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I do. I really love all the in-house production work that TCM does, and these TCM Remembers pieces are so thoughtfully done.