David Knight - 15th Jan 2009

It's undeniably well-made, but I think Nick Bartleet's video for Pendulum's Showdown is also highly problematic.

In a grim, underworld setting, young women have replaced fighting dogs to provide sport for an ugly bunch of baying males. The violence - actually performed by two experienced martial artists - is extraordinarily vicious, and the camera glories in it. The reaction of the watching pack is all too believable, and the viewer is essentially complicit in the whole degrading spectacle - part of the mob.

Nick Bartleet seeks to balance matters with an ending where one girl escapes - but that's not half as convincing as what precedes it. Still, it's popular! It was meant to be internet-only, but is now A-listed on MTV Dance in the UK and elsewhere.

If you haven't already seen it, make up your own mind. Here's the link, with Nick's own explanation of the making of the video below.

Nick Bartleet on the making of his video for Pendulum's Showdown

"Pendulum wanted a video for their new single to feature a gritty fight sequence between two girls, but were open to ideas as to how this could be visually and conceptually achieved. Having listened to the track, it immediately generated ideas of a dark anarchic underworld fighting ring. Drawing parallels from the brutal world of dog fighting I wrote a hard-hitting and uncompromising script.

"With the band having loved the treatment, it was now important to strike the balance between the violent and bloody concept and what would have to become a more palatable video. Isolating one individual and focusing on her heroic struggle and eventual prevailing over the 'bad guys', helped to this end.

"I decided to cast Zara Phythian in the lead role, who I had worked with before on another promo and who is without question one of the most talented female martial artists in the country. The other main fighter is played by the equally incredible Helen Bailey.

"I wanted the fight sequence to feel quite raw, messy and non martial-arts inspired, with moments of clarity and precision but needed to use girls with a high level of skill and control to make the scenes convincing and with the training to endure the rigours of hard concrete and sub zero conditions with very few clothes.

"The video opens in a long corridor with women slumped against the walls, bloodied up. We enter the main arena, which is a vile, cess-pit of an underground warehouse. Bloodied and bruised women bark aggressively from cages, as men prod them through the bars. Our protagonist is forced into the spotlight as dirty men stand, throwing their cash around, making bets and obscene gestures. After a gritty girl / girl, Fight Club-esque battle with frenzied hair pulling, punching and kicking, our hero fights back!"

Watch 'Pendulum’s Showdown by Nick Bartleet' here


Production CompanyPixelloft Ltd
DirectorNick Bartleet
ProducerPhoebe Lloyd
1st ADMarko Fuchs
Director of PhotographyEric Maddison
Director's RepresentationY
CommissionerJohn Moule

David Knight - 15th Jan 2009

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