The Reflektor Tapes provide an insight to Arcade Fire‘s critically acclaimed album, Reflektor. It charts the band’s journey, from its conception right up to its production.
The film seeks to immerse viewers and give them the full album experience by seamlessly weaving never-seen-before personal footage, documentation of the recording process and moments captured by the band members themselves. It offers an imperfect and raw representation of Arcade Fire and its music by taking the viewer through the thought processes of the band members and making the whole experience more tangible for viewers.
Directed by Kahlil Joseph, winner of the 2013 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Short Films, the entire film is a curious mix of creative lusciousness, as well as smoke and mirrors.
Even though it is meant to be a documentary, it feels more like a music video at times, as it is beautiful and leaves the viewer wanting more. The constant use of footages from concerts and performances makes it seem like a show-and-tell.
It is also a pity that the film focuses too much on Win Butler (lead singer) and Regine Chassangne (multi-instrumentalist). Because so much time is spent on the two, the rest of the band seem almost invisible. This makes the other aspects of the band, such as the guitarist, bassist, drummer and violinist feel slightly neglected.
However, the band’s dedication to their artistry, as well as creativity, is nothing short of inspiring. It is the one driving force that keeps the film going.
I will admit that the film was thoroughly mesmerising and psychedelic. I respect the band’s aesthetic tastes and beliefs. It is fascinating to witness it on screen as it comes through in every scene, performance, and song. The details of the costumes and props, as well as the film’s harmony with the band’s philosophy of art-making were highlights of the 90 minute film.
All in all, despite failing to bring the viewer closer to the musicians, the beauty and compelling visuals still made the film interesting enough. Forget about the text and just go into the world of music, stunning works of art and the effortless cinematography. Arcade Fire fans, if you want to experience the experimental, or if you want to catch a glimpse of your favourite band in action, this film might just be worth your time.
Who knows, you might even find something unexpected, like an unreleased track in the video.
Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes will be shown exclusively at The Projector on 20th and 21st November.
Directed by: Kahlil Joseph
Running time: 90 minutes
Film stills courtesy of The Projector.