Stripsearch – Faith No More explore transitions

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According to the HSC English Syllabus for Module C: Texts and Society, the second elective of Exploring Transitions requires students to

explore and analyse a variety of texts that portray the ways in which individuals experience transitions into new phases of life and social contexts.                    HSC Prescriptions 2015–20 English Stage 6, p. 15

Faith No More’s 1997 music video for ‘Stripsearch’ reveals a persona attempting to move away from a negative, difficult situation towards a more positive opportunity. This text would be suitable as related material for The Story of Tom Brennan due to the masculine focus and self doubt portrayed.

Consider how these points could be written into analytical paragraphs to highlight  how transitions can be challenging and transformative, resulting in growth and a range of consequences for individuals and others.

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  • the slow ballad opens with a fade into a grey day, highlighting the bleak, industrial environment – reminiscent of an eastern European suburb
  • persona’s close up glimpse through the window shows a facial expression of emotional detachment

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  • slow motion actions are emphasised by the sombre music and tonal sounds that mimic painful moans
  • panning shot of persona’s descent downstairs suggests an emotional experience of loss

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  • pale colours and derelict scenery symbolise an emotionally barren landscape and explain why the persona is leaving
  • these ideas are supported by the lyrics of the opening verse ‘It’s over today – the heat is gone – time is gone’

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  • an ominous deep voice almost speaks the bridge and states the “only way to change – give yourself away – don’t be ashamed” which allows us to consider the challenge of acknowledging our behaviour, especially if it has been damaging to others. The ability to reflect on past actions does not come easily to Daniel, however Tom Brennan is able to move beyond his negative attitude with the support of his uncle and girlfriend

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  • the shot-reverse-shot of  the persona and watchtower guard reminds us of the internal scrutiny we place ourselves under, and how we may be hypercritical of our actions, possibly leading to denial and an inability to move forward. Consider the stasis of Tom’s mother suffers debilitating depression and is unable to face her future

v2 tracking enters grim checkpoint customs ocntrol

  • as the second verse begins, we are taken into the checkpoint via a tracking shots which reveals boredom and disinterest for those waiting

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  • continuing slow motion and close up shots of the persona’s walking shoes display a sense of inevitability, together with his grim perspective as shown in this low angle

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  • the Godardesque panning of queued people invites us to consider the inexorable situation, while the persona steps ‘out of line’ and continues performing lyrics

love this place

  • juxtaposition of ‘love this place’ with a wide staring gaze hints at derision or cynicism of situation

outo music dirge like drama intensity

  • as the outro begins, a sense of isolation is created by the wide shot revealing the persona as the sole occupant of public space
  • this accompanied by an increasing musical intensity and layering of instruments, building toward the narrative’s climax

refelction one and the same persecutor and prey

  • cleverly constructed reflective shots encourage the viewer to contemplate the metaphorical supposition of inherent introspection

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  • the persona’s behaviour, that has led to this attack by the guards, is recalled through a series of flashbacks as the repetition of ‘give yourself away’ takes us through the brutality of his arrest

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  • metaphorical death is denoted by the final fading low angle shot of guards into brightness then black


Wikipedia provides this information about the music video that

was filmed in Berlin. It was directed by Philip Stolzt, based on a screenplay written by Billy Gould.[5] In the video, Mike Patton walks through parts of the city. At about half way through he arrives at a military checkpoint and stands at the back of a queue also containing the other members of the band. When he reaches the front, he hands over his passport for inspection. The man inspecting it finds something wrong with the papers and calls the guards on Patton, who tries to get away and is pinned to the floor at gunpoint and arrested. The video then shows still images set earlier in the day, highlighting previously unseen details that point to Patton being a criminal.

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