The New York Times, 21 février 1999

The pairing of the Icelandic pop singer Björk with the French video director Michel Gondry has resulted in several marvelous short films to frame Björk’s songs. Perhaps the best pop videos ever made, they’re surreal without pretension, like a child’s dreams, and festooned with bright sets and oversized props, among which Björk seems at play.

Half of the songs on this video compilation from the last five years of her career (since leaving the Sugarcubes and becoming a solo artist) are directed by Mr. Gondry. There’s also one by John Kricfalusi, the creator of ‘’Ren and Stimpy,’’ and one by the director Spike Jonze, whose style of looniness is more hard-edged and knowing.

The Gondry video for ‘’Bachelorette,’’ from her 1997 album ‘’Homogenic,’’ is a good example of how pop
videos can reach the level of art while still allowing the performer her star power. Instead of inventing scenarios for the purpose of getting across the song’s lyric, the video goes off in an unexpected direction : its storyline has, on the surface, nothing to do with the song yet plays off the romantic atmosphere of the
song’s string sections and heart-rending refrains.

In the beginning, Björk comes across a book while walking through a forest, and though its pages are blank at first, words begin to appear across them. Then the book begins telling her a story, acting as a guide and leading her to a book publisher, who falls in love with her and publishes the book to great success. A movie version of the book follows, then a theatrical version of the movie version. Then the phenomenon starts to run backward : as the type disappears, everyone around the singer turns into the vines and trees that she first walked through in the forest.

It seems like a folk tale, or a Borges story or an extended Jacques Tati conceit ; in any case, it’s rich in a way that MTV’s regular-rotation films never are.

par Ben Ratliff publié dans The New York Times