Kanye West: Runaway

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Posted October 25, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

A long-form video – or short concept film – is designed for Kanye West’s new album and presents everything that is synomonus to him, but on a more epic, yet respectable level

The mastermind of Kanye West never ceases to baffle and amaze us. After looking like a person either desperate for attention (like a media whore) or someone suffering from ADD with his public rants and Twitter protests, Kanye West is back at doing what he’s best at doing. That is music. His new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, still comes with a barrage of criticism after debuting his initial album cover featuring an illustration of a nude phoenix mounted up on a horny Kanye rendering. But his big-budget concept video, “Runaway,” could be his most daring step into art de facto.

The 35-minute reel appears like a motion picture and somehow blends full versions of his songs into the kaleidoscope of cinematics and acts. The opening reveals our musical hero, running on a lonely highway set in the middle of a forest. It’s a scene that we revisit towards the ending of the clip,but it’s cut short in the beginning as West is now transplanted in a sports car racing through the woods. A flying meteor on fire cracks through the hemisphere and is charging to the ground  in Superman style. West rescues the Phoenix (Elisa Ebanks) and does his best to get her adjusted into human life, even telling her to “not believe everything you hear in the news” (a jab at his public war against the media, of course). The acquaintance with the half-bird, half-human turns romantic after “All Of The Lights” finds West bonding with the fallen creature on what appears to be a date decorated with fireworks and a MJ-dedicated parade. After a decent banquet scene featuring a tapestry of ballerina dancers charming his song “Runaway”, the story develops into something a little more interesting. The phoenix confronts a turkey read to be served for dinner and realizes that she cannot co-exist in the human world. She wants to be free and set on fire, not quite the same way the cooked bird was on the dining table but in the tradition of the fabled phoenix. West doesn’t want that. And like  most fairy tale love stories, West is now frantically running through the woods to find his lost love. He never discovers her fate, but we do.

Storywise, even with West’s fantasy of having a family feast being catered by white servants, West gives us a glimpse into his twisted fantasies. The colors and sets in the film are quite rewarding to the eye, thanks to Hype Williams’ directing, but some scenes  linger too long and are a bit and a bigger budget would have helped giving some of the digital effects a little more realism. Maybe somewhere in the ballpark of Transformers. But Kanye does the impossible – on the scales of a Michael Jackson project – and produces a film that blends his cantata of music into a story on a level of Beatle-esque grandeur. The results are strong enough to push him further away from the booming population of rapping miniatures.

An unedited, uncensored version of the film “Runaway” can be found at Vevo.com. It is expected to come with hard copies of the album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

J MATTHEW COBB

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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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