Review from :
Kanye West debuted his long-form music film Runaway on Saturday night. It was a dreamy mini-movie with lovely, light imagery and a heavy message roughly speaking, people arent open-minded; they dont accept what they dont immediately understand. Take it as a metaphor for how West feels about the acceptance of not necessarily his music, but his public behavior (epitomized by the West-Taylor Swift VMA moment), and you probably wouldnt be wrong.
It told the story of a phoenix (played by model Selita Ebanks) who falls to Earth in front of Wests car. West, playing a version of himself, tried to introduce her to a world that mystified her, and was mystified by her.
The West-directed Runaway used a heavily-saturated color palette; bright oranges, fiery reds, and lush forest-greens dominated. He lingered over his imagery, frequently slowing down the motion for us to observe the phoenixs most causal gestures. In one bravura sequence, he included a red-dressed marching band that pulled along a giant papier-mache bust of Michael Jackson in its wake. West has said that Runaway contains nine songs from his forthcoming album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and supplies visuals for all these songs that deserve videos.
Late in Runaway, the phoenix speaks: You know what I hate about your world? Anything that is different you try to change, you try to tear it down. Wests visual and musical sophistication was constantly contrasted with images of the phoenixs playful innocence, until she finally burst into flames and ascended back to my world, as she put it, leaving Wests character desperate, running down the road after her, left alone. Runaway aired simultaneously on MTV, MTV2, and BET; each channel inserted their commercials into Runaway in a cruelly abrupt manner that marred the flow of Wests film.
In an interview that aired immediately after Runaway, West referred to Fellini and Kubrick as influences, and the languidly assured tracking shots and framing in some scenes bore out those influences. He also said the phoenixs crash paralleled the crash of my career. Sometimes its best for an artist to just let the work speak for itself.
Given how controversial Wests every artistic gesture seems to have become, I have a feeling well be in for a round of dismissals of Runaway as a pretentious piece. Instead, it deserves to be seen as a carefully modulated art-film made by a man on a mission.