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Elizabeth Dutton


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The Odyssey



Over Memorial Day weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Los Angeles screening of The Odyssey, a film by Vincent Haycock to accompany/expand the Florence + The Machine album How Big How Blue How Beautiful. It was magnificent.

As you know, I adore cross-media projects, specifically blending music with visuals or the written word. I also love artists who defy genres and labels. That could only mean I would enjoy this film, but it has been far greater than that.

I went with a dear friend and as we left the venue that evening, we both struggled with words and agreed that what we’d seen would take some time to process, and that is the truth. It has taken me time to really digest and process this masterwork.

The videos for the album and the film are filled with incredible choreography. The dance is very elemental and real, almost primal. The movements are chaotic yet precise, if that makes any sense. The screening began with live dance performances to two songs from the album. Seeing dance in person is so far removed from watching it on screen. The energy and emotion of it all was overwhelming, and it wasn’t just me feeling that way. Everyone around us in the theater was in what felt like a held breath for much of the performance. People’s eyes welled with tears, and it wasn’t a put on. It was cathartic in a very authentic sense; actually the film is, as well. There was very specific and personal emotion conveyed that was masterfully universal (THAT is the art sweet spot). I listened to conversations around me involving the most diverse participants that all said, in essence, the same thing: we all related intensely (in our own ways and perspectives) to what the songs and the images and the movement were saying, and we all felt understood and validated. I’ve not been in a situation like that before. I have seen some performances (music, film) where I knew I was in some sort of transcendent moment; in those cases, though, I wasn’t sure that everyone around me was feeling the same thing. It always felt very private, that connection to the artist and the art in the moment. This was different. It was a collective connection and it was beautiful.

The film is sublime. It is gorgeous and atmospheric and intelligent. The imagery is insanely layered and rich — shit, I know I am not doing it justice with words. Just go watch it. {HERE} Basically, there needs to be more Vincent Haycock work in the world. His eye and vision are genius.

There was a question and answer session after the screening where my friend (who works in and lives for fashion) informed me that Florence was wearing custom Gucci and we marveled at the vulnerable perfection of everyone involved with the project. It was a necessary cool down after the emotional workout of the project.

So what did I have to process? I have been working over and over in my head the stories told and the messages conveyed. This is an album and a film about having many selves, about resurrecting one or more of those selves, about traveling to hell and back, about trying your best to get a message across, about feeling tossed about by the four winds, about sacred spaces, about generations and histories, about real and invented identities. All of these things spoke to me on a very personal level. I loved the album when it came out, but the film just made it more. I always carry so many uncertainties about myself and so much damage around with me, and after the screening I felt like I had a kindred spirit, as well as reassurance that we come out of things on the other side (oh, the very end of the film is just so perfect). I felt lifted and understood and it felt really fucking good. To the core.

And I knew I’d seen true, beautiful art.

Receiving such art inspires me as an artist. I can’t explain to you (well, I guess I tried to above) how thankful I am to have been so inspired and energized. I hope you find art that does the same for you.


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