Perhaps you’ve seen it. On May 1st 1947, Evelyn McHale ended her life by leaping from the Empire State Building.
A photo of her body in death – peaceful, serene – lying crumpled on a limousine became almost instantly iconic.
Entranced, Scott Matthews knew he had to write a song about this. ’86 Floors From Heaven’ is the result. Attempting to pay his respects in a gentle, dignified manner, the accompanying video expands on this photograph.
Utilising archive footage, it crafts Evelyn’s day, her final ascent and then fateful leap. “The story of Evelyn McHale and the iconic photograph by Robert C. Wiles made it's way into the only piano-based song on the album” he explained recently.
“I clearly remember the first time I laid eyes on the extraordinarily profound image, via a '70s Life annual. Like millions of other people, the image both inspires and saddens me a great deal. I lived with Evelyn's peaceful expression and my thoughts for more than twelve months before I felt compelled to write a song about her story. I'm sure the photograph will have the same effect on people in a hundred years from now.”
Director Lukasz Pytlik discusses his involvement:
In regards to the relationship between the music and the film : I think it's important when making a video that you do not give easy answers. A director must trust in the listener or the viewer to understand from the video what happened and if he/she has interpretations of their own and which are not necessarily what you had in mind while making the video, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you have made something that made others think and made those people spend their most valuable asset, time, to reflect on it and to find the visual connection with the lyrics and between the song and the visual on their own. Also hopefully they see new elements to solve the puzzle each and every time you watch the video over and over again. For the creative idea, I didn't just want to recreate the day of Evelyn.
In the six minutes, I wanted to recreate the times when that day happened. I think that using vintage footage makes you reflect and become more immersed through seeing people that actually lived in those times. Maybe even some of them knew Evelyn. Maybe they saw the jump. You will never know and yet it is possible. It even makes for a great story itself. Also there is always something extremely melancholic and nostalgic about seeing buildings the way they were back in the day to see young people full of dreams and hopes, knowing that most of them are long gone now. That's almost surreal when you think about it and this surreal feeling continues in shots with "our" Evelyn. I wanted this video, this song to stay with our viewer long after they stop watching.