With the 1999 debut of her first feature, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, director Sofia Coppola made a distinct splash in the world of independent longform narrative filmmaking. Like many of her generational peers, Coppola got her start in music videos, but unlike many of those some peers, she wouldn’t leave that world behind entirely once she’d made the big jump.
In 2000, Coppola released a promotional music video for THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, taking the film’s original theme song by French electronica band Air and turning it into a pop single in its own right. The resulting music video, “PLAYGROUND LOVE”, was easily integrated into the shooting schedule of THE VIRGIN SUICIDES by virtue of it simply re-using several prominent shots from the movie. Presented in the square 1.37:1 aspect ratio, “PLAYGROUND LOVE” supplements the repurposed footage with new 35mm film shots that were captured on set, forming a vignette about a wad of gum being passed around the characters and locations seen in the film. While the cue’s appearance in THE VIRGIN SUICIDES is purely instrumental, the music video incorporates vocals that are sung on-screen by the aforementioned wad of gum using subtle animation techniques. As the video unspools, Coppola spins a larger meta-narrative that breaks the fourth wall to reveal the production itself, even going so far as to incorporate herself in a cameo as the production’s director.
“PLAYGROUND LOVE” is a simple, clever concept that’s executed very well. The usage of chewing gum as a narrative device reflects Coppola’s thematic fascination with the teenage feminine mystique, what with its cultural connotations of emotional detachment, aloofness, and seductive allure crashing up against the trappings of adolescence. Under Coppola’s subtle guidance, “PLAYGROUND LOVE” becomes more than just a standard-issue promotional piece; it’s a piece of art in its own right, further reinforcing Coppola’s undeniable appropriateness in adapting THE VIRGIN SUICIDES to the screen.
AIR: “PLAYGROUND LOVE” is currently available on Youtube via the embed above.