Netflix’s foray into the world of music initially saw them testing the waters with huge pop names and concert films with the likes of Taylor Swift and populist film composer Hans Zimmer. Now, the leader in streaming gives us something altogether more beguiling and otherworldly — a collaboration between two of the most progressive minds in the arts: Thom Yorke and Paul Thomas Anderson, and their short film, ANIMA.
In case you’re wondering, this article is about the ANIMA film — if you’re needing a review of ANIMA in its album form, here you go: it’s Thom Yorke, it’s brilliant, go listen to it as soon as possible.
Make no mistake, this is not Yorke’s first time dancing in front of a camera: there’s the internet sensation music video that is Lotus Flower from Radiohead’s King Of Limbs, which sees him in no-fucks given freestyle. Later, in his Atoms For Piece project, he released a more tightly-choreographed video for the song Ingenue.
In the director’s chair is Paul Thomas Anderson, who has received 25 Academy Award nominations over a career that has seen him create films such as There Will Be Blood and most recently, Phantom Thread. Anderson and Yorke have grown their friendship over recent years, with Anderson working on several films with Johnny Greenwood, leading to him directing the music video for Radiohead’s Daydreaming, and a few other promos also.
ANIMA begins with an oppressive shot travelling down a tunnel, soon revealing that we are on a train underground (the opening filmed on the Paris Metro). The short film spans three of the songs from the album, the first being Not The News - with its almost militaristic electronics providing the rhythm for Belgian choreographer, Damien Jalet (who previously worked with Yorke on the film Suspiria). The packed-out train is fairly reminiscent of a morning London commute; workers struggling to stay awake in a cramped train, except the matching grey jackets, and the synchronised movements lending a more sinister 1984 sense to proceedings.