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"I shouldn't even have to explain how much I adore Bjork by now, because if you've read any of my past reviews on her records then you'll know perfectly well just how much I think of her. I won't bore you by heaping praise on her, but I might occasionally slip into the worship-phase I usually fall into when talking about her in this review. Oh well. My current art project is based on Bjork herself. I am exploring the way she adopts nature into her music and music videos, and how this is contrasted with the high-tech sound of her music (which can be heard on albums such as "Homogenic" and "Vespertine.") Therefore, I thought it would be wise to invest in Bjork's "Greatest Hits: Volumen 1993 - 2003" DVD. I already knew that this stunning video featured an amazing 21 music videos spanning 10 incredible years in the music industry, and thought it would be a brilliant source of study for my project.
The first video in this collection is the stunning "Human Behaviour." This was Bjork's first video as a solo artist from 1993, and it sure makes an impact. The song is a look at humans from an animal's point of view. Bjork is singing the lyrics, which already suggests she is an animal - apart from the crowd and very much her own creation. Directed by Michael Gondry, we see Bjork in the woods with a giant teddy bear searching for food. The bear is also being hunted by a hunter in the woods. The bear chases after Bjork as well, but she outwits him. The woods are used as a metaphor for the human psyche; Bjork as the animal is lost in the woods, which represent the complex and dark characters of a human being. In the video to "Venus As A Boy," Bjork carefully fondles an egg while explicitly singing about copulation. This video is rather strange and a bit boring in my opinion, but there's a deeper meaning at work here. This video is quite funny, though, as Bjork thinks about a guy she admires, carefully observing the egg being fried. This video juxtaposes implicity with explicity. Brilliant.
The video to "Play Dead" is rather boring in my opinion. The song itself is amazing and Bjork's vocals are perhaps at their best here than in any other song of hers. The song was the theme to the movie "The Young Americans," starring Harvey Keitel. "Big Time Sensuality" was probably the most popular Bjork song of the "Debut" era, and the video is superb as well. The song used in the video is the Fluke Minimix, which is much better than the original version. In this video, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui, Bjork is stood on the back of a truck which is driving its way through the streets of New York. The camera stays focused on Bjork all the time as she sings and dances for the viewer. The main object of this video, however, is to get across how Bjork communicates with the listener by the use of her body. Note how she moves her arms and legs, contorts her face, and smiles euphorically at the camera to express her extreme happiness at life. The director said of Bjork, "I saw her face and I heard her music...and I couldn't sleep." Honey, I know the bloody feeling! Many a night have I found myself absolutely shattered but refuse to go to sleep due to my obsession with Bjork. I simple cannot stop listening to her! "Violently Happy" is not really one of my favourite Bjork songs and the video is not very memorable. I like Bjork's videos to take my breath away and this one doesn't, sadly.
As Bjork developed as an artist, her videos became more elaborate and more challenging. For example, the video to "Army Of Me," the first single from the "Post" album, is a brash and techno-industrial anthem which simply pounds along. Bjork drives along in an over-sized tanker truck. In a way, her voice is the machine she is driving - powerful and so overwhelming, coming from such a small and petite lady. The video to "Isobel" is beautifully shot in black and white by director Michael Gondry. Here Bjork sings the story of Isobel, a young girl who was born in the forest. Water is the primary feature in her world. Gondry uses water as a dreamy transition tool between scenes. Like many Gondry videos, Isobel's different realities blur, calling each world and reality into question. "It's Oh So Quiet" is easily Bjork's most famous song ever, and this is something which will (probably) never change. It's a shame that a lot of people only know Bjork for this song. I mean, it's a great song and I can see why it was so popular, but she has SO much more to offer. The video is amazing though, it has to be said. The choreography of this Broadway-style anthem became a pop culture staple of the Nineties.
The video to "Hyperballad" is a stunning collection of vivid images and a contrast between modern man and Mother Nature. We see an image of Bjork with her eyes closed, laid down in a patch of leaves and grass, while electric static flickers over her face bringing up some beautifully luminous colours. Again, the video was directed by the amazing Michael Gondry. "Possibly Maybe" was, as Bjork says, her first ever 'sad' song. People are brought up in Iceland with a positive outlook on life, so to write a song with negative emotions was seen as a struggle by her! Fortunately, she pulled off a masterpiece and the video is the same. Stephane Sednaoui directed the video, which features disjointed shots of Bjork playing with yellow powder under a black light, wailing with an afro, in a silk kimono putting on lipstick, hovering in the sky like a flickering goddess and in a red dress over a fire. The video is amazing for its use of contrasting colours, a variety of costume changes and Bjork's incredible performance. In the beginning the director uses very bright, flashy colours in contrast with monotone colours. Bjork is very sensual as she eats and licks the watermelon and puts lipstick on. This video shows a whole new side of her, as usual. The video to "I Miss You" is very strange because it uses cartoon images with normal images of a ginger Bjork! It's a very surreal video, and features some rather rude imagery, so not one for children!
"Joga" has always been one of my favourite Bjork songs, and the video to this song is one of my main focuses in the art project. The song incorporates the sounds of volcanic eruptions used as beats. This is a sharp contrast between nature (the volcano erupting) and modern technology (which is the computers used to make the eruption into a beat). The video reflects this with shots of Icelandic nature and the rugged and varied landscape of the land. Directed by the marvellous Michael Gondry, the video is a treat for the eyes. "Bachelorette" sees the return of the character Isobel, who now has her autobiography out, which is the title of this song. She is exploited by the industry in this video, which doesn't sit too well with Mother Nature. Before Isobel (played, obviously, by Bjork) knows it, people are turning into plants and bushes as nature tries to take control over the city. Eventually Isobel has to surrender her new-found fame and retreat to the woodland. This video was also directed by Michael Gondry, and is the third in a trio of videos with nature as the central theme, the first two being Human Behaviour and Isobel. "Hunter" is a stunning video which focuses only on Bjork's head and shoulders. She sings of being the hunter, the primal instinct in us all. As she sings, she morphs into a polar bear, but shakes this off again and again, trying to keep her animal instincts reserved for when she truly needs them. A smashing video.
"Alarm Call" features yet more images of nature as Bjork floats down a river on a raft, encountering crocodiles, snakes, deer, lizards and piranhas! Perhaps Bjork's most popular video is the awe-inspiring "All Is Full Of Love." This amazing video, directed by Chris Cunningham, features two robots in a production process. No one is around them apart from machines which add parts to their bodies. The two robots then passionately embrace, kissing one another rather erotically. The idea in this video is that love is everywhere; love can flourish in almost unthinkable situations amongst everything. "Hidden Place," apart from being an amazing song, has a very interesting video to accompany it. Bjork is but a few inches from the camera as a number of bodily fluids float around her face, from her eyes and into her mouth, up her nostrils and everywhere else. "Pagan Poetry" is a superb song with a very abstract video which I can't even begin to comprehend.
"Cocoon" is one of my favourite Bjork videos. Naked and painted white, Bjork stands in a grey room singing intimately about her lover while a red string material emerges from her nipples. It sounds ridiculous, but it's not. Bjork moves her hands in movement with the red string which continues to flow, eventually wrapping her up. The video to "It's In Our Hands" sees Bjork wandering about in a patch of tall plants in the middle of the night. Night vision is used to give the impression that we are being let in on something very special and intimate. The final video in this collection is the superb "Nature Is Ancient," in which Bjork is actually not present at all. Directed by the male-trio Lynn Fox, the video focuses on the conception of a human being, showing how Adam was born. A fascinating look at the miracle of human life!
OVERALL GRADE: 10/10
This collection of videos is not just for Bjork fans, but for anyone interesting in REAL works of music video art. This DVD has been used in college and University media courses all over the world, and it's not hard to see why! Bjork represents the ultimate in the complexity of the human brain. She is an uncalculated genius whose talent knows no bounds. This can be seen in this DVD; no other video artist has consistently put out unique and interesting music videos that always have a strong message about the behaviour of human beings. Buy this now, it's absolutely essential."
Great Tribute To A Wonderful Career
Hiloani Kialeta | Hawaii USA | 08/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you know anything about music you will know how influential Bjork is to the industry. She creates majestic music, quirky lyrics, amazing movies and magic music videos. Her music accompanies her videos so well. She uses an amazing array of themes in her videos but the main one would have to be nature.
She ropes in the most amazing names in directing to create videos that are out of this world, and not without controversy either. Some of her videos have been banned in the US because of the nudity content. However this just adds to the weirdness of Bjork.
From "Debut" there is "Human Bahaviour", "Venus As A Boy", "Play Dead", "Big Time Sensuality" and "Violently Happy". From "Post" comes "Army Of Me", "Isobel", "It's Oh So Quiet", "Hyper-ballad", "Possibly Maybe" and "I Miss You".
From Homogenic surfaces "Joga", "Bachelorette", "Hunter", "Alarm Call", "All Is Full Of Love". From "Vespertine" are the controversial "Hidden Place", "Pagan Poetry", "Cocoon". There are also two new videos, "It's In Our Hands" and "Nature Is Ancient".
An added bonus about this collection is the fact that all the videos are in chronological order which makes it that more special and a great synopsis of her career.
The one thing that disappoints me though is the fact that she includes no videos from "Selmasongs" and no bonus features however the fact that this dvd is so thorough those factors really don't detract at all.
Overall, "Volumen" is a great way to get into Bjork's music but most of all her videos which are simply my favourite videos that have ever been made. This dvd is worth every penny."
Bjork is amazing!
Chaikin | NJ | 12/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bjork rules. All her videos are incredible. This is a great collection of all of Bjork's videos (except Alarm Call and All Is Full Of Love - both exceptionally brilliant videos that i really wish were included) but whatever, the remaining videos are so original and innovative you know that Bjork has been at it again... my personal favorites were 1. "Venus as a Boy" because who else could make eggs so sensual, and the song is amazing 2. "Hyperballad" because it goes so well with that song (my favorite of Bjork's) and 3. I Miss You because the creator of Ren and Stimpy animated it (so you know you can't miss that)! Definitely recomennded for Bjork fans, or even for anybody in film school who wants to brush up on how to make an insightful, creative video. Oh I almost forgot, "It's Oh So Quiet!" amazing, just incredible! Bjork can do anything, let's elect her president..."
"On this tape you can find more than just some nice music vids- it's a world of it's own. Enjoy the best works of M. Gondry, S. Sednaoui, and other creative directors. Every vid is unique and original, so you find "pure" Bjork in "Hunter", a "Comic-Bjork" in "I miss You", a surrealistic Bjork in "Human Behavior", "Army of me", a self-destroying Bjork in "Hyperballad" and in the most beautiful and heartbreaking song "Jogà" you can find a artificial "state of emergency" (and so the video looks like lovesong for her homecountry Iceland) It's the best music video I ever own and seen, but sadly I missed the newest two videos "Alarm Call" by Alexander Mcqueen and "All is full of love" by Chris Cunningham (Thousand times better than "Frozen" by Madonna.)"
I hate videos. I love this piece of work
Chaikin | 02/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My old roommate had this DVD. I watched it, then I invited friends over to watch it, then more friends, until I had no more friends to invite. It's so good--good like going to a great film, good, or like going to a great exhibit or installation, good. I own only one DVD and this is the one. I used to listen to The Sugar Cubes in highschool. I liked Bjork but never had her albums until I saw this DVD. Then I realized she was genius."