Music Video of the Day: Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)


I’m glad I am doing this as a retrospective. That way I can build upon their previous videos. What do we add this time?

We get the quick zooms at the beginning that people who grew up during the 1990s probably remember from the music video for the Rock Version of Ready To Go by Republica. Also, I know I will say it again when I get to a music video directed by Michael Bay, but one of the most important reasons that music videos are not to be ignored in the history of cinema is because they changed the way editing was done. This video is a good early example. Elected by Alice Cooper from 1972 and Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Gees from 1977 are better examples, but it’s still worth mentioning with Waterloo because it will become more noticeable when we get to videos like Take A Chance On Me and SOS. As you watch any of those videos, notice how it isn’t just a song played over a film, but a film and a song transformed into an integrated whole. That’s a big change from many films that came before music videos that used music in service of the film rather than it being a two-way street.

Also, while the phones were kind of stupid in that alternate version of Ring, Ring; the Napoleon bust nicely ties the band, song, and their costumes together with him to immediately set the theme and speed of the song.

There’s something subtle in this music video that is easy to miss. You still have the profile shots where they aren’t looking at the camera. You still have the shot through the girls to Benny on the piano. You have the addition of the girls looking at each other to sing. The thing that is subtle and easy to miss is that during the low angles, the band is all looking straightforward whereas they do look up when the camera shoots them from a high angle. You’ll see that featured prominently in SOS, as if they are looking up to you for help. Here it looks like they refuse to look down, but only straightforward and upward towards their future. The crane shots are also more impressive in this one, than Ring, Ring.

One of my favorite things about the video is the ending. Ring, Ring ended on a cheesy freeze-frame. This one has the camera move further and further between Frida and Agnetha until you are left with a blank white shot that it lingers on even after the song has stopped. It is a nice way to visually match the vocals drifting off because the camera is also drifting off of the subjects (the band). It also visually matches the song coming to an end.

One negative thing I can say is that an edit was left in at about one minute-and-five-seconds that feels like it is there to cover up a goof.

Enjoy!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  2. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)

48 responses to “Music Video of the Day: Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)

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