At last month’s MTV Video Music Awards Kanye West released the trailer for his short film Runaway. People who watched the trailer were left scratching their heads as they tried piecing together the jumbled, incohesive scenes into some sort of storyline.
Most people figured the movie would make more sense in context and were curious to see the finished product. Last night West released two full versions of Runaway, clean and uncensored, which you can watch below but be warned – you still may not understand the film any better than before.
I watched the short film with fellow Screen Rant writer Mike Eisenberg, who had this to say: “This looks like what would happen if Michael Bay and Stanley Kubrick collaborated on a film while consuming a large quantity of hallucinogenic drugs.” I can’t say I disagree with him.
West is running at the beginning then again at the end – and the in-between is filled with all sorts of gibberish including but not limited to the following: A beautiful half-naked phoenix, a backyard petting zoo with a woolly sheep, a couple of free-roaming wild turkeys and a deer, a large gathering of family and friends in an airplane hanger – whispering about the socially awkward phoenix as West performs the title track to Runaway while a group of homely ballerinas dressed in black, inexplicitly dance. These are just a few of the scenes that lost me.
And someone is going to have to explain the scene with the red-hooded Klansmen standing next to a Scottish marching band while a giant angel and demon dance behind them with fireworks exploding in the background. I can usually pick up on subtle metaphors but this one escapes me.
Watch below and then give us your thoughts in the comment section.
Runaway – Clean Version
Runaway – Uncensored Version
In case you weren’t able to discern the plot, here is the story for Runaway, according to West:
“It’s the story of a phoenix fallen to Earth, and I make her my girlfriend, and people discriminate against her and eventually she has to burn herself alive and go back to her world. I’ve been feeling the idea of the phoenix. It’s been in my heart for a while. It’s maybe parallel to my career.”
While the cinematography in Runaway is beautiful to look at and the score is excellent, it’s the direction, acting and story that end up falling short. The story lacks cohesion, even for an “art house” style film, and what story does exist is quickly gobbled up by unexplained images and background settings.
Most of the problem lies in the poorly written script by Belly director Hype Williams. He’s enjoyed a lot of success as a music video director – winning awards for Best Director from MTV, BET and Billboard. However, Runaway appears to suffer from Williams lack of interest in trying to bring the story together or West trying too hard to make the movie cool – or maybe both.
On a positive note, along with the movie, there are 10 great hip-hop tracks on West’s website GOOD Fridays for free and they’re well worth your time to download.
Runaway stars newcomer Selita Ebanks as the Phoenix and Kayne West as himself.
So now we know that West isn’t very good at directing movies but everybody isn’t supposed to be good at everything – even Michael Jordan fell short when he tried to play baseball. Maybe if West keeps trying, he’ll get better; though, I’d rather he just stick to music. I know he’s good at that.
What did you think of Runaway?
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