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Somebody That I Used to Know (Video Analysis)

First things first, watch this video:

Check the way they use paint here.  He starts out clean (naked, vulnerable), but as his anger and bitterness grows, the lines start to appear, first around him and then on him.  The paint fills in to cover him up, and he wears his unhappiness like fitted clothing.  The sharp angles and different colors blend him into the wall so that he himself becomes hard to distinguish from the world around him.  He is losing himself to the break up.

Then she comes in.  She starts already dissected by the paint, but as she acknowledges her pain, the paint disappears.  For her, she lost herself during the course of the relationship (“Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over/but had me believing it was always something that I’d done”).  Her resolution to stop living in guilt for things that he had done releases her.  She sheds a single, barely visible tear before the paint begins to go.

Both he and she appear naked in the video.  For him, this nakedness symbolizes his lingering vulnerability to her.  As he progresses through his emotions, he comes to the conclusion that she is just somebody that he used to know, and he becomes closed to her.  In deciding this, he also rejects something that is essentially him.  He lets himself be lost to his anger.  He begins clean and ends broken and covered.

She begins covered and ends naked.  When the paint starts to disappear from her body, her negative attachment to him also disappears.  The way he treated her (“I told myself that you were right for me/but felt so lonely in your company”) caused her to lose her vulnerability, and without him, she has the chance to start again.

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3 thoughts on “Somebody That I Used to Know (Video Analysis)

  1. Nice video clip. I listen to songs a lot, but I often don’t hear them. I just process it as pleasing to hear, well constructed for me, I may even learn to sing along – but I still don’t recognize what the song is saying. Analyses like this remind me that there is a message in the medium. As with much art, response comes from so many levels. I need to be attentive to moving past the first level. Thanks for the post, Maggie.

  2. Pingback: Best Break Up Albums — #4, Making Mirrors by Gotye « Maggie Felisberto's Blog

  3. I’ve got something differente from the video. At the start, he and the wall (which represents his concept of world) are blank. But as the relantionship goes on, something makes his vision, his concept of world, to change, and that is the cause of the painting of the wall. And as a result, he changes hinself as well, in the same pattern of the wall, or his world. And so he’s turned in a completely new person.

    Then the camera goes down and show the girl, wich is already painted at the very same pattern, showing that she was the factor wich caused all of that to his life, changing him to her pattern, to her way, but that was just a mask in wich she had her true self hidden. And she says all those things in response to him, but when she turns around, her face is not painted. That shows that, even if you want to, you can’t hide everything of his own self. And she is trying to convince him that she was right.

    But now she has no secrets to him, and he can see trough her mask, and that’s why se ends the video naked, because he can see trough her mask, into her very essence, and he knows now who she really is. But that won’t change him or his world to the original form again, he will never be the same again, because his very essence has changed (:

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