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IDLES 'Model Village' by Michel Gondry & Olivier Gondry

David Knight - 17th Aug 2020

Michel Gondry returns with brother Olivier to bring some magic to the world of music video. And the wonderful surprise it is a political satire in childlike cartoon form for the corruscating rock of Bristol band IDLES.

Michel and Olivier have visualised IDLES' frontman Joe Talbot's scathing portrait of English village life in Model Village, and Michel in particular has returned to his roots with a burst of childlike imagination delivered in a genuinely DIY fashion, in a wonderfully homespun but ultimately hugely powerful lockdown project.

Produced by Partizan in collaboration with WePresent - the editorial platform of WeTransfer, which premiered the video with an extensive piece on its making - Michel has drawn, cut-out and stop-frame animated his own paper version of Talbot's Model Village. Olivier then added CG enhancement and post, so that it becomes something akin to a pop-up children's book.

If Talbot's sketch of smallmindness and bigotry in the small town where he grew up can be regarded as a swipe at the  mindset of Brexit England (and Wales), the Gondry approach lifts it onto another level. This village is populated by pig-people, dominated by the local bully, fuelled on drink, pills and weapons. But there is a beacon of hope: an adventurer-astronaut who aims to escape the confines of the village. 

Talbot's characteristic vocal delivery works remarkably well with the visuals, which sway between from elements of social comment and surreal flights of fancy. Meanwhile, the element of satire feels like this is the Gondrys paying homage to the great Eastern European animators like Jan Svankmeyer who Michel has venerated since his teens. 

Watch the Behind The Scenes video, including clips from the directors' Zoom meeting with Joe Talbot at the start of the process, here.

Talbot studied Film at university a decade ago, and has been a Gondry fan for a long time. He told WePresent: “Michel’s work is handmade and it's human and that's something that our society pushes against: you need to be perfect. You need to look perfect and everything needs to be seamless and strong. But actually, vulnerability and naivety are strengths. To be vulnerable and to be naive is to have empathy. And so, to empathise with your adversaries and allow yourself to be naked on film or on record is a really strong thing to do. It liberates you and it also liberates your audience. That's something that I hope that IDLES can do, and that Gondry's been doing for years.”

Also speaking to WePresent, Michel Gondry added: “Olivier and I were excited to work on this because we use completely opposite techniques. I work with a primitive system of cutting paper and moving it under the lens frame by frame. Olivier then transforms it by morphing, warping and CGI. Basically, in the first part we try to illustrate the lyrics as close as possible, to create the world, and then in the second half...they go to the moon.”

Ultimately the message of Model Village chimes with Michel Gondry's own creative credo: nothing is more important than freedom of individual expression. And for him the best way to channel that freedom is through childlike wonder.

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David Knight - 17th Aug 2020


  • Animation
  • Narrative
  • Stop motion
  • Rock
  • Cut-Out

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Michel Gondry
Olivier Gondry
Raffi Adlan
Production Company
Executive Producer
Mayling Wong


Michel Gondry
Valerie Pirson


Jake Schwartz


Matt Osborne


VFX Supervisor
Olivier Gondry


Director's Representation


Theresa Adebiyi
Partisan Records


Production Supervisor
Debo (J. DeBartolo)
Sound design
Josh Falcon

Other credits


Katie Moran


Tom Frazer

David Knight - 17th Aug 2020

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