David Fincher’s A PERFECT CIRCLE: “JUDITH” (2000)

After the release of 1999’s FIGHT CLUB, director David Fincher’s feature career was well established. In theory, he had earned the privilege of never having to return to commercial and music video work again, but unlike a lot of filmmakers who followed this path, Fincher didn’t see features as the be-all-end-all of his career. So in 2000, before pre-production on his 2002 follow-up feature PANIC ROOM got off the ground, Fincher was able to squeeze in a music video for “JUDITH”, the hit single from post-grunge rock band A Perfect Circle.

“JUDITH” is incredibly grainy and grimy, in accordance with Fincher’s aesthetic during this period. He incorporates a “jumpy film” conceit that mimics the nervous, manic energy of FIGHT CLUB. Visually, the piece is well within Fincher’s wheelhouse— what with its high contrast lighting, cold brown color palette and artful silhouettes— but what really distinguishes “JUDITH” as a Fincher work is its exploration of the artifice of filmmaking. Fincher loves to play with the boundaries of his frame, and here he exposes the weaknesses of film as a recording medium. This is achieved most likely via CGI and post-production effects work that mimics the look of degrading film: light leaks, scratches, fluctuating contrast, and the drift that occurs when the projected film can’t quite line up evenly along the perimeter of each individual frame.

“JUDITH” is a pretty pedestrian video for an unmemorable song, with its sole value being Fincher’s continued exploration of aesthetic fascinations. He wouldn’t return again to the world of music videos for another five years, but that’s okay—his feature work in the interim would be more than enough.