Analysis Of A Music Video

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson

Analysis of a Music Video – Marilyn Manson – Running to the Edge of the World (Censored Version 5:04 minutes)

Technical Codes:

The camera work in this music video is vital to the viewer’s understanding of it.  For the most parts of the video, Manson is filmed in a close up shot singing the lyrics of the song.  This helps convey a lot of messages to his audience as Manson’s band are conventionally in the music video with him. The camera work also creates a sense of isolation and unease due to this fact. Later towards the end of the video the camera work changes to a low angle, point of view, hand held camera shot as it travels throughout the home this creates an almost personal effect to the video, which is reflected in the song lyrics. In one part of the video Manson is filmed in front of mirrors and the camera pans downwards to reveal a second reflection in a nearby mirror in the left hand side of the shot. This is a mirror that magnifies the reflection and makes Manson’s face larger, this allows the audience to see his emotions and creates again another personal feel. This video is heavily reliant on technical codes to portray the main underlying messages within the song it represents. Close ups of specific props emphasize their importance, such as the razor and the pill bottle. Both of these stay true to Manson’s star image of exploring the controversial and show their importance to the video, leaving the audience themselves to use their own experiences to figure out why the props are important to the narrative, creating a bridge between the subject matter of the video, the artist and the audience.

The video is also heavily reliant on editing as a lot of cut-aways are used to make sense of the narrative. At first, a cut away is shown of Manson setting up a home video, much in the style of a home-made police interrogation room, with the iconic circular back lighting against the wall. This reference when put in context with the rest of the video at the end harks back to intertextuality with old police/crime drama’s where the suspect is put ‘in the spotlight’. It’s placement within the narrative also hints at the fact it’s a precursor to what may unravel later in the video, which creates a sense of mystery for the viewer. From 4:10 in cut-aways become more frequent which quickens the pace of the video. The subject of these cut-aways are also quite disturbing to the viewer which increases this effect, yet they are key to the narrative as the viewer can now piece together the story behind the video, using the lyrics sung as almost as if they were a narrator to the scene. The cut-aways to Manson in the bathroom are perfectly timed to the lyrics using the words ‘runaway’ juxtaposing this with editing which enforces themes of self-reflection. The use of editing on the filming of the whole video creates a home-made feel to the cinematography. Throughout the video, a flicker effect is used between some frames and in the middle of the shot; this is developed in the section where the camerawork changes completely to a low angled, hand held style, where the effect creates a low quality visual style to make it more believable. The cut-aways to the murder victim are timed to distinct loud parts of the song, emphasized by all instruments. This accentuates the violence represented by the mise-en-scene of the shots as well as tying together the narrative of the video and the lyrics.

The lighting in this video is used to create a distinctive effect on the audience. There’s a coloured filter used in editing when Manson is filmed ‘singing’ the lyrics to emphasize the emotions of isolation and loneliness. Throughout the video the lighting is distorted with filters for example in the home video style hand held shot there is a yellow filter making the audience feel uneasy. In the scene with the mirrors, the lighting is much starker and whiter, this symbolises the truth and the blatancy of Manson’s character’s actions in the video. This idea ties in with the underlying messages and narrative of the video as this is the key point where the audience reflect on what the video is really about as the main point of this scene is reflection on the self.

The only sound to this video is the song, this creates an alienation of time between the events unfolding nearer the end of the narrative and when the ‘character’ Manson plays is ‘singing’ the lyrics. This helps convey the narrative as a ‘nostalgia’ effect and the audience understand that the events they are seeing have already happened. Editing towards the end of the video of cut-aways to quite disturbing images are edited to the bass and drum line of the song giving them extra impact.


It’s obvious from the video that the narrative is non-linear even though it isn’t clear until the end of the video. The editing makes the narrative choppy and almost confusing at first, leaving the audience wanting to watch it more than once to understand the concept. The video, like many of Manson’s more famous videos is very psychological which not only links in with his star image but creates an inventive hook to make the products more marketable to his target audience.  The videos narrative, although confusing starts at the end of events and harks backs to what led the ‘character’ Manson plays to the state he’s in when he’s ‘singing’ alone to the camera. The take on this music video is highly metaphorical, even though it can be interpreted as taking the lyrics of the song literally, it is left for the audience to decide for themselves, which in turn makes it a highly marketable product.


There are only two locations used within the video, this is the ‘home’ and the more ambiguous and isolated area in which Manson’s lone ‘singing’ the lyrics is done. The ambiguity of the second location is blurred, using selective focus to enhance the importance of Manson and the ‘character’ he plays.   I believe that this is done on purpose to exacerbate the isolation aspect of this shot as the audience feels like that the world this ‘character’ lives in has for a reason later revealed, suddenly become something he is separated and excluded from.  The location of the ‘home’ is, like most of Manson’s conventional representations in his music videos, far removed from the comfortable happy homestead. Glass tables are shattered, with a blood patch left of the carpet, the yellow filter used on this shot emphasises the subversion of the dominant ideology of the ideal home life. Within the ‘home’ two rooms of several importance feature throughout the video. These two rooms are used as visual metaphors as the bedroom is seen to be a personal, intimate place between lovers and the bathroom is also shown. Due to the use of props: mirrors, drugs and a razor in this particular scene it could be interpreted as a metaphor for reflection upon flaws within human nature itself.  During the ambiguous locational scene, there is only one prop and that is the curtain made of thin material that Manson uses to display the emotions of frustration and heartbreak by gripping and other such actions. The fine material it is made of can be seen as a ‘mask’ because within various parts of the song Manson hides behind the material. However, when it comes down to Manson’s character’s costume it is a true convention of all his videos as he is dressed in his iconic black gloves, white shirt and black tie. This is a consistent theme seen throughout many of his videos and stays true to his overall star image. Although, Manson’s make-up in this video is very different to most of his make-up in his other videos, as he’s missing lipstick and his eyeliner is messier than usual. The basic theme to his make-up suggests that there is a different approach to this video and the audience’s emotional response is supposed to be rawer. The whole of the music video has been deliberately different to Manson’s usual conventions, making it more effective upon his audiences as it highlights the difference in tone to them.

Performance and Choreography:

There is hardly any performance aspect to this video, and Manson’s band doesn’t appear in the video at all which is uncommon for Manson. The only thing that can be classed as performance is the part where his is ‘singing’ alone to the music, in which the camera is focused and uses a close up shot.  However, scenes like the small clip of him hitting the woman must have been choreographed and devised as it is key to the narrative and needs perfect timing.

Representation and Star Image:

Manson is an artist who’s heavily reliant on his star image. He has an iconic make-up and dress style that is unique to himself as do his band members. He is recognised worldwide for various reasons. Within this video, his iconic style and self-representation has been subverted on purpose. This creates a deep impact on his target audience as it is something they’re not often introduced to. This is done I believe to fit in with the narrative of the music video as it is highly emotional and touches on a very sensitive subject. However, this isn’t uncommon and is actually another piece of his star image as Manson is known for tackling highly controversial ideas and confronting them in his songs and music videos a like, so the star image hasn’t been cast aside, but changed to incite a very different audience response. Manson also represents in this music video a more humane view of the subject he tackles, as he shows it from a different perspective to most media products. He adopts the persona of the murderer within the video and portrays how the subject of the narrative effects the character of the murderer. Within the music video, a woman is shown in her underwear; she herself is a co-character within the video as she is murdered, however she can be interpreted as a metaphor for the relationship being described in the lyrics Manson is later singing. He sings of a love relationship that has eventually ended in a break up. The act of murdering the woman could be seen as yet another visual metaphor for the relationship mentioned in the song, her demise representing the death of the relationship.

Emotional Response and Visual Pleasures:

This music video fits in with Manson’s star image as it doesn’t follow the conventional rule that music videos go against what people ‘want’ in a music video. He challenges dominant ideology constantly which is part of why people love his music. There are no visual pleasures within this video, other than the feature of the star himself as a ‘character’ within the video and the fact that the woman featured is only dressed in her underwear. However, any physical attraction is taken away due to the circumstances she is involved with during the video. The camera however does follow the theory that it is for a male audience as the woman’s body is featured in the whole shot to which the camera uses selective focus on it, so that it is clear against the background.  The emotional response to this video is what fundamentally sets it apart to most of Manson’s videos as Manson cries within the sequence where he is filmed on his own. This shocks his audience and incites a raw emotional response to the events told in the videos narrative maybe even touching viewers own experience that they bring forward to the media product. There however, can be different emotional responses especially to his controversial work because people may see it as offensive to them and that it should be real life material that shouldn’t be recreated in a music video to which any age and gender of people could see. The representation of the darker side of human nature within the video and other videos Manson has created could also be seen as disturbing to people who want to believe that these types of circumstances don’t exist.  The lyrics featured ‘If God crossed us we’d take all his drugs and burn his house down’ could also be seen as ‘offensive’ material to those who are religious. These are all alternative opinions I am aware of, but they are not my own.


There isn’t a lot of intertextuality featured within this video.  However, the theme of murder and confession can be seen as reminiscent to crime drama and other media products of the like, where Manson is setting up what looks like a home made confessional tape.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s