Music Video of the Day: Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches (2000, dir. Geoff McFetridge)


Like so many music videos, Frontier Psychiatrist has multiple versions. There’s the well-known one that’s been talked about so much that I no longer feel special for noticing the use of the song from a Silvana Mangano movie–she’s best-known for the film, Bitter Rice (1949). And then there’s this version. If for some reason, it is no longer up, then you can follow this link to see it.

It’s a more realistic interpretation since we are seeing events from the outside. You could argue that the other video takes place in this kid’s head. This one is what is happening in the real world. Or at least as real as a world can be that has a mother holding up a book with this cover…

and pages like these in it:

While this video did help me to understand a storyline for the song, it has a problem I can’t get past.

One of the things that makes the well-known video so great, is the tight connection between the audio samples and their visual recreations. It’s a visualization of the way everything from a John Waters film to instructional tapes were combined by having those things performed on one big stage. The storyline is the journey through the components of the song.

Here, the audio and visuals do sync-up on occasion, but there is still such a disconnect that it’s off-putting. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the only version I knew of before I sat down to write this post. I keep expecting movement and cuts at each audio sample, and it doesn’t happen.

I wouldn’t say it’s a bad version though. The parts with the kid who plays Dexter are good.

The kid makes this video. He turns something fun, into something disturbing. On the other hand, I’m not sure I like thinking of Jeremy by Pearl Jam while I’m listening to Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches.

I’m up in the air about this one. Watch it, and make up your own mind about it. Rorschach tests or Turtle-Man? You decide. Enjoy!

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