Music Video: Hozier’s Movement and Mental Illness.

For some reason, I never actually watch music videos anymore. I usually just stream or listen to my music and that’s it. I guess the visuals didn’t matter as much to me as I grew up and became less and less obsessed with the pop culture side of music.

Or maybe I’m just tired of seeing the old and forgettable music video tropes, you know? I mean, how many times can I watch a video with Nicki Minaj grinding, Miley twerking or people just dancing around a room in skin tight outfits? As awesome as their dance routines probably are, it could get boring after a while.

But that’s where I’m wrong; music videos aren’t always tired replicas of themselves anymore and they weren’t always meaningless. In reality, Music videos can cause a phenomenon that can have a lasting influence on pop culture, or even a society as a whole.

Music Videos are also sometimes what makes a song go viral, it could even create an artist’s career for that matter.

For example, Hozier was practically an obscure (and unpronounceable) name in the industry when his debut single ‘Take me To Church’ was released. However, when its music video went viral, everyone suddenly knew the song and everyone automatically recognized the name Hozier.

And the reason that it did go viral (other than Hozier’s angelic voice and poetic lyrics) was the subject of the video.

It’s a story about finding love, hiding love, trying to protect that love while living in constant fear of losing it. It’s a story that millions around the world related to. And if not, then at least they were affected by it and/or its intensity. It was a clear cry for acceptance and a beacon of hope for those who suffer, or might suffer, through a similar experience because of who they are.

Basically what I mean is, the video had a message.

More often than not, when videos have a message, they leave a much more lasting effect on us, especially if they manage to strike a particular chord or if we somehow relate to that specific idea being conveyed.

The videos don’t even have to be overtly “preachy” and they don’t need to hit you in the face with whatever they’re trying to say. Some of them could be pretty straight-forward, handing you the idea on a silver platter, say ‘Cherry Wine’ which deals with domestic violence.

They could also be quite subtle, hidden carefully for you to discover on your own. They give you a chance to think, to wonder what it all could mean.

I guess those videos are kind of my favorite. They engage me mentally and, sometimes, emotionally. They hit hard.

And the video that had me mesmerized this week, alongside its song, is Hozier’s Movement.

Movement and Self-Struggle:

Movement’s music video premiered on 14 Nov 2018 starring Russian Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin who gained fame in 2013 after his ‘Take me to Church’ dance routine.

The video starts with Polunin exiting a car then entering a deserted building with a bloodied clone of himself following.

The real Polunin tries to run away from it, only to find out that the only way to pause the chase is to dance.

Polunin running away from his "bloodied" clone in the video through dancing.
Polunin running away from his “bloodied” clone in the video through dancing.

Then Polunin finds another version of himself; a tattooed body, wearing dark red and a deadly smirk to match. This “angrier” or more “aggressive” one also tries to capture the real him as a cat would a mouse. Again, the only way he got it to stop was when he danced.

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In a final dance sequence, Polunin meets another clone, this one dressed in white. It appears to be a perhaps more submissive version, a more peaceful clone. It appears as though it’s trying to reach the real Polunin but fails to do so.

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As the video comes to a close, Polunin runs to the roof, seemingly contemplating jumping, with the red clone close by and the bloodied clone trying to reach them while the one in white stands quietly observing in the background.

Depression, Anger and Helplessness:

Related imageSuffering from a mental illness isn’t always a straight line. There isn’t a direct path to healing and sometimes the people affected have to struggle with it throughout their entire lives.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses and is the leading cause of disability worldwide with almost 300 million individuals affected according to the World Health Organization.

Those diagnosed with depression (Recurrent/Major depressive or Manic/ Bipolar) are often plagued with a loss of interest in almost everything during their episodes, which could make them experience a wide range of emotions.

Polunin dancing in Hozier's Movement video.
Polunin dancing in Hozier’s Movement video.

For example, helplessness is a common feeling amongst those who suffer depression. Helplessness because one can’t stop the urge to just lay in bed doing nothing. They’re trying to fight it but it feels almost useless, like it’s taking over everything. It’s controlling them against their own will.

And for some people, that helplessness sometimes comes with anger.

Sergio Polunin, the star of Hozier's Movement video.
Sergio Polunin, the star of Hozier’s Movement video.

An anger that’s targeted at one’s self because they couldn’t fight anymore, because they “gave up” too soon or because “they didn’t try hard enough”.

It could also be because a creative person’s failure to do the stuff they used to do due to a loss of interest. They might be angry because they cannot do what they love anymore, they can’t have their escape because of the mental illness.

That’s how I saw the clones in the video. They’re just three different sides to a daily struggle that might not end.

In my own interpretation, Polunin is first trying to escape his “bloody clone” which is depression, but he fails. When that happens, the anger “red clone” returns and finds him.

Sergio dances while "White' attempts to reach him and 'Red' kicks the wall in frustration.
Sergio dances while “White’ attempts to reach him and ‘Red’ kicks the wall in frustration.

In the meanwhile, helplessness “the white clone” stands by idly with a hand reaching for the real Polunin, but it that seems almost afraid to engage with him.

Similar to the accounts of creatives who are dealing with depression, the only time Polunin and his clones are in understanding or “in sync” is when he dances. It’s as though their “differences” are set aside for a moment, as though that’s the one thing all versions of him could share.

The final dance sequence between Sergio Polunin and the two coloured clones.
The final dance sequence between Sergio Polunin and the two coloured clones.

I also couldn’t help but noticing that, in their dance scene, Polunin was perfecting every move while the red clone was failing and the white was attempting them but with much more caution. However, the bloodied clone “depression” was sitting on the ground, not even bothered by it all, like he’s not interested by one bit.

As for the final scene in the video, Polunin is running towards the edge, with anger and depression closely following while helplessness stands in the background watching everything as it unfolds. It’s observing quietly, unable to do anything, waiting to see who would eventually succeed in driving him off the ledge.

If you are struggling with Anxiety, Depression or any kind of Mental Illness, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask for help. If you aren’t sure how to do that, please click here to access our 2019 mental health resources compilation. We need you with us, please stay.