Idolator’s Tribute-Video Treasury Hits The Moors With Heathcliff And The Gang

kater | November 13, 2007 3:05 am

Once again, Idolator intern Kate Richardson scours the video sites, looking for the best fan-made music videos. In this installment, she tries to see if Pat Benatar and Chan Marshall could be seen as the Brontë sisters of YouTube.

Think of all the old English novels you’ve ever been forced to read. Is Wuthering Heights your favorite? Then you’ve got more in common with the tribute-video community than you probably thought! Congratulations? Sorry? In any case, there is no want for love of the Brontë sisters on YouTube, and it appears as if the Heights camp of videomakers is a lot more literature-centric than the vapid movie and miniseries-obsessed Jane Austen fans, who’ve been spoiled by entertaining, fun-to-watch adaptations. Every Wuthering Heights movie I’ve seen has been as dank and plodding as the novel itself, but this week’s videos prove that even boring BBC fare can sparkle with a little hard work and some help from Pat Benatar.

Song: “We Belong” by Pat Benatar. Concept : Wuthering Heights as rousing, triumphant story of two lovers who belong to the light, who belong to the thunder, who belong to the sound of the words they’ve both fallen under. This is for those who like passionate love stories, but hate it when they don’t end happily. Pat’s stirring, percussive declaration of eternal love is a bit too optimistic to for Emily Brontë’s totally bummer story of abuse, revenge, and doomed passion. Scenes of Catherine’s death and Heathcliff’s tyrannical return are conspicuously absent. There is one one really out of place scene of Heathcliff slapping the mess out of Catherine, but overall the video is decidedly roll-in-the-hay-centric. A whole lot more could have been done here editing-wise in conjunction with the song’s heavy percussion, which is practically begging for some sharp on-beat cuts, but there is at least a somewhat unique use of superimposition that saves the video from total banality. By and large, despite its many flaws, it’s a lot more entertaining than the movie itself, and there’s certainly something to be said for that. Best music-to-image sync-up moment: At 1:32 separate slow motion images of Heathcliff and Catherine climbing around the misty moors are superimposed over each other during the dramatic chorus of the song, by far the most effective moment of the video. Silliest music-to-image sync-up moment: The relatively innocuous shot of Catherine and Heathcliff embracing in a field about 56 seconds in seems really odd. I think it’s Timothy Dalton’s bizarre haircut and weird pensive expression in combination with the chorus of the song; something is seriously off with that sound/image combination.

Song: “Where Is My Love?” by Cat Power Concept: Wuthering Heights as plotless, slow-motion love story on horseback. Rarely have I seen a tribute video so accurately capture the essence of its subject. While watching this I found myself slightly bored, vaguely intrigued, and, above all, hoping it would end soon. If that’s not the experience of reading Wuthering Heights, I don’t know what is. The sparse sadness of the song works perfectly for the gray, brooding images and excessive use of slow motion, and, on a more literal level, the lyrcs “Horses galloping bring him to me,” and “Horses running free, carrying you and me” ensure that every single shot featuring a horse has been included in this video. The end result is a conceptually interesting (Cat Power? Really?), though essentially boring piece of fandom that seems like it should be sitting in a corner of the MoMA basement as some sort of rejected video art installment. Best music-to-image sync-up moment: The last 43 seconds are just a still shot of Heathcliff (I think) peering out over the moors watching two figures move towards each other in the distance. In slow motion, of course. It’s an odd visual, and paired with the music it’s almost artful, or at least strangely soothing. Silliest music-to-image sync-up moment: Every clip of someone riding a horse. Serious overkill.

Verdict: While the Cat Power video earns credit for its thoughtful, tone-appropriate approach, the Pat Benatar clip is vastly more entertaining, and, on some levels, even a little bit weirder, making it the most bitter resident of Wuthering Heights, and the winner of this week’s match-up.