The Avalanches’ Since I Left You – music video miners leap into a new world

Since I Left You 1The music video for The Avalanches Since I Left You, released in 2001, reveals the risks and rewards for two miners who fantastically enter a new world. Directed by Rob Leggott and Leigh Marling, this text would be suitable as related material for the movie Billy Elliot in HSC Standard English Module C Elective 2: Into the World.

Remember to discuss a range of different techniques from the music, lyric and film modes of this rich text. Begin your analysis by writing a topic sentence that refers to a key concept, such as transition between worlds, maturity, choice, consequences of change, risks and rewards of entering a new world. Aim to analyse different techniques than those used heavily in the actual film Billy Elliott.

  • keyhole shot opens or zooms out to reveal an abstract world that we slowly come to identify as a mine
  • miners are trapped in a black and white world and begin to dig their way out toward the muffled sounds of music
  • sound effects of a canary singing reinforces the notion of tradition and suggests the conservative nature of working class practices, such as the masculine attitudes of Billy’s father and brother

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  • single guitar plays an upbeat melody that becomes repetitive, with a layering beat and percussion instruments to suggest a more complex situation

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  • the miners break through the barrier between the worlds and enter the colourful world of a dance audition, seen in the slow upward pan of two female dancers who smile and welcome the men

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  • Arthur is prepared to accept the risk of perfecting a new skill – dancing – which is in stark contrast to his occupation as a miner in terms of socially acceptable expectations. This links with the actions that Billy takes in following his passion by stepping outside the traditional masculinity of his small town

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  • there is a clear contrast between the two audition rooms: Billy’s audition is unwelcoming with serious judges, whilst the music video shows a more inviting atmosphere, including judges with positive emotions who initially give unintentional feedback by smiling and nodding

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  • Arthur’s friend is unable to make the necessary change into this world, and contemplates the consequences of returning to his mining world as shown in the misty split screen of Arthur with a female dancer. Arthur has clearly established a new relationship of support and friendship in this world

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  • slow motion is used when Arthur makes physical contact with the female dancer, and as he flips over. This practiced skill mirrors Billy’s slow motion leap in the closing sequence and demonstrates his successful transition into the world of professional ballet.

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  • Arthur’s anonymous coal mining partner dissolves into the old world, suggesting that he is unable to make the change, perhaps through his lack of ability. We see this in a point of view shot as he stares at his hand begin to flicker into black and white

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  • the closing sequence is an interview, in colour, with the elderly anonymous coal miner who explains  that he ‘never saw Arthur again’. Even though he remained in his familiar world, he seems content with his choice as the mise en scene reveals a comfortable lounge room with a caged canary and framed photograph of the two miners as young men.

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2 responses to “The Avalanches’ Since I Left You – music video miners leap into a new world

  1. We all have our own takeaways, so this is mine. I am an older gent, respiratory therapist by trade.
    When a person asphyxiates, the low levels of oxygen to the brain creates hallucinogenic effects. As per the opening and closing scenes, 2 miners are trapped for 3 days, and only one is rescued. As the oxygen levels run low in their compartment, perhaps they were keeping in good spirits by talking. Arthur led his younger protege into his dying regrets of what he wanted, and never did. To dance.

    As they both descended into that pleasant dream, a pair of angels came out to dance with them. A much more delightful perspective, then trapped in a mine. Toward the end, Arthur chose to live/die his dream, but his young friend was not ready to go. He retreated back to our current reality, and Arthur left this plane, dancing his heart out with two angels.

    It’s funny how you see things differently, toward the end of your life. I just rediscovered this video late in life, and like Arthur, I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory. Live like this is your last day….it might be.

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