Urban Diversions


Music videos and urban issues are not a likely combination. Most videos are daft things intended merely to promote a pop single of dubious musical value. Some are works of art in their own right. Rare, however, is the videoclip — as they are called in Quebec — that has a unique or interesting perspective on public or urban space.

One of these is the video for indie songstress Arianne Moffatt‘s song Montréal. The video takes a fairly literal approach to the song’s content — it’s about returning to Montreal from Paris — but what makes it fascinating is the way it plays with the relationship between maps, signs and public transportation. One of the best sequences is when the headlights of an RER train morph into stops on a map of an RER line; the camera follows the line, pulling back to reveal the train’s interior. Also memorable are the scenes from Charles-de-Gaulle airport, the landing in Montreal and the closing shots taken along the Ville-Marie Expressway heading into Montreal, the concrete overpasses of the doomed Turcot Interchange looming overhead.

Another video I like comes courtesy of Lily Allen. It’s an alternate MV for her hit LDN. Although the mise-en-scène is completely straightforward — it’s just Allen riding around London on her bike — it is more effective than the more heavy-handed original. The cheery, colourful visuals are the perfect accompaniment to Allen’s sarcasm… and who doesn’t like looking at some street-level footage of London?


Finally, yet another video I enjoy is Corneille‘s Avec classe. There isn’t anything particularly remarkable about the song, but I appreciate the video because it was shot, guerilla-style, on Ste. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal. It is surprisingly rare to see any footage whatsoever of real urban life in Quebec’s many locally-produced movies or TV shows. No filmmaker has ever created a truly representative film about Montreal. In the absence of that, then, it’s just nice to see an honest bit of video the reflects this city as it truly is.


This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Wednesday July 18 2007at 11:07 pm , filed under Music, Transportation, Video and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “Urban Diversions”