French film-maker Laurent Ripoll breaks down his latest video…

A remix of Savages producer Johnny Hostile’s new track ‘Work’, reimagined by Mixhell  – Iggor Cavalera, former drummer of heavy metal outfit, Sepultura, and producer Laima Leyton – was always going to be an experience.

To add to this mix, French fashion film maker Laurent Ripoll has created some out-there visuals to accompany the track, drawing influence from classic silent film, early cinema and surrealist photography.

Ripoll has spliced unused archival shots filmed by the American film industry at the beginning of the last century, evoking an uneasy  – at times disturbing – view of humanity, alongside driving, industrial beats, futuristic synths and ominous, growling bass.

“Silent film is a major reference point for me in this video, particularly Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ and his nightmarish and dehumanised industrial world,” explains Ripoll.

“I also like the surrealist photography of the ‘30s, especially the work of Man Ray, who I think has something pure in his images which I too sought in these archival images from the early 20th century.”

We see 20th Century railways and houses collapse, crowds of people swarming, and footage of school children filing through corridors spliced with soldiers marching through an arid, desert landscape. All the rushes are taken from an archive of 35mm film shot by the great American studios, especially pieces of video filmed as stock footage during the period, or unused shots for films that have been preserved.

Machines and automation seem to play a big part in these vintage visuals. “As I listened to the piece, I immediately wanted to play on the mechanical sounds that can be heard, as if the music itself were responding to some kind of automated breakdown,” says Ripoll.  “There is a questioning in each of the musical phrases, then a resolution.

“Visually, I therefore wanted to play with the same principal by almost constantly showing an action in progress - mechanical, of course - then a resolution. Mechanical failure comes up most often, being the most surprising thing that can happen with a machine.”

Mechanical failure, and a sense of insecurity – people being chased and attacked, a clock ominously ticking – add to a general feeling of unease. 

“It’s intentional,” says Ripoll, “but I did not set out to make a stress-inducing video either, there are many clips that one could call ‘happy’. However, I concede that, overall, I often tried to use footage that was somewhat unsettling because I think that’s what the piece inspired in me, in an instinctive and inexplicable way.

“As this footage dates from the last century, I found it interesting that, because of the sheer amount of group scenes, one has a feeling of detached observation of man and his way of life, as if it were a nature documentary. Even though, in a certain sense, it’s quite critical of society today, it is also true that we haven’t changed all that much in a century.

“Most of the scenes in the video could be transposed to nowadays, and that is the criticism: the fact that, in the end, we have evolved so little.”

The original ‘Work’ track is taken from Johnny Hostile’s debut album ‘(dys)function’, and this new remix will appear on his new 'Work Remixes' EP out on 19 April via Pop Noire.

Check out the new video below...

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