Dazzling and Strange: Thom Yorke Ponders Love and Angst on Anima

Eric Gasa

XL Recordings

Over 20 years since the release of the seminal album, OK Computer, Radiohead singer, Thom Yorke still maintains his creative peak. In tandem with his newest solo record, Anima, the singer has partnered with director, Paul Thomas Anderson to produce a short film to accompany the record. The result is a sleek, modern, and quintessentially Thom Yorke experience, starring the musician in his own dystopian world of angst and anxiety.

Available exclusively on Netflix, the film, also titled Anima gives viewers a glimpse into Yorke’s mind and showcases three songs from the record. The feature has no dialogue and is almost reminiscent of a silent film.

The first shots start in the grey-washed interiors of a subway. Passengers nod in and out of a trance-like sleep, and we see Yorke doing the same thing. It’s a surrealist scene as one by one the passengers awaken to life. Yorke stirs awake and makes eye contact with his muse across the car, played by his real-life partner, Dajana Rocione.

The ensemble exits the train and begin a stylish and artistic dance performance. Yorke’s ghoulish falsetto fits perfectly in place with the scene; dreamlike and mystifying. Human forms rive and abstract into odd shapes around Yorke as he searches for the girl he lost on the train.

In one scene, he struggles up an incline like the face of a mountain, while performers skitter down like raindrops streaking across a windshield. Thank expert choreographer, Damien Jalet for producing the routines.

The environment of Anima is cold and grey, but there is a warmth to Yorke’s performance; some intimate statements of love and visual artistry. A scene of Yorke and his muse in a dark city street is chilling and serenely beautiful. Coupled with Yorke’s lyrics and synths the scene is pure visual poetry. The singer stands cheek to cheek with his muse before they fall into a slumber once more. By its end there’s something a little Orwellian to the entire affair.

At 15 minutes long, Anima is nothing more than a glorified music video but it’s a highbrow performance with all the panache of a performance art piece; a sharp marriage between an eccentric musician and auteur film director. Its as dazzling as it is strange.