Hiro Murai made a number of music videos in 2014 that highlight the humor and beauty in tragic scenarios. Childish Gambino’s "Telegraph Avenue" is a tropical romance story with a comically grim twist. Chet Faker’s "Gold" is a sexy dance on roller skates that ends with a graphic flourish. And Spoon’s "Do You" takes a light hearted drive through the end of the world. Murai’s catalog echoes the early days of Spike Jonze: silly, strange, and referential. But like that director, there’s a point where all the fun visuals and cheeky concepts merge and mature into something more profound.
For Murai, it appears that point is Flying Lotus’ "Never Catch Me, Feat. Kendrick Lamar." Released in October, it is the best music video I’ve seen this year and any year in recent memory. If you haven’t watched it yet, do so before reading any further. It’s heartbreaking, and I’d hate for its first viewing to be tainted by whatever criticism I have to offer.
The story of this short begins with the quiet scan of a coffin, followed by a pile of children's toys and a grieving congregation. At the front of the church, a boy and girl rest in a coffin. Then their eyes open. The boy and girl step out of their coffins and begin to dance — with a shocking degree of skill — in the aisle, across the pews, out the door, through the playground, and into their own hearse, in which they drive away. These two children, who unjustly lost their lives, take control in death. They feverishly make their transition to something else, somewhere else joyous and divine. And so we get this final shot of the young boy, his head out the window, soaking in the light.
Seriously, just watch.