As is often the case, I encountered The Weight of Gold as a side bar suggestion while viewing an entirely different short on the web. In watching this music video directed by choreographer Benjamin Millipied for the British recording artist Forest Swords, I was immediately drawn in by the stark and desolate beauty of the landscape, the lanky androgyny of the figure, the stunning camera work, and the hauntingly gorgeous music. Try as I might I found myself unable to look away.
The film unfolds as the dancer, Batsheva Dance Company’s unbelievable Billy Barry, traverses across a mountainous desert expanse near the Dead Sea in Israel. Barry’s physicality is so creature like that he imbues the most ordinary of gestures and movements with an otherworldly quality. His walk has a kind of lost and elegant intensity – we don’t know what he’s feeling, where he’s going, or what it all means – yet the film’s non-linear structure suggests that it makes little difference. Sometimes seemingly in the middle of nowhere, other times passing cars on a black top highway, or walking by buildings and groups of boys playing ball, he walks and walks. Arriving finally at an abandoned structure high up on a ridge he removes his (very fashionable) vest and shirt and delivers back bending movement that is remarkable and beautiful. The framing and camera work mixes both very wide, and frequently moving shots of body parts, and in tandem with the location and mesmerizing score, the visuals are uniquely powerful.
Originally viewable on NOWNESS, The Weight of Gold was created as a music video. And while it maybe a little slick, and Barry has the androgyny and neutral expression of a model, it also succeeds as a striking portrait of a remarkable dancer.
The Weight of Gold is well worth its weight in gold… Watch it.
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