NEW YORK — In Kanye West's "Runaway" short film, the rapper captures the story of a fallen phoenix that he resurrects through his music and affection only to lose her once she regained her full spirit and returns back to her home planet.
The narrative could be an allegory for West's return to the mainstream stage after a self-imposed exile following his Taylor Swift interruption at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
After all, West holed up in a Hawaii studio for months — away from the spotlight — to record material for his forthcoming My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and then burst back onto the scene with the rousing "Power."
So it begs the question: Is there a deeper personal meaning to the story behind the visual? When asked about his "Flashing Lights" video back in 2008, West did say, "Every piece of the video is me, what I represent now."
"I think there's a lot of similarity in this and 'Flashing Lights,' " West told MTV News on Wednesday (October 20) after a limited Manhattan screening of "Runaway." " 'Flashing Lights' is my favorite piece of work that I've done. The pacing, people are always like, 'Where is the rest of it?' But we didn't have the time or whatever or the money to do the rest of it. But I might do the rest of it, the beginning and the end. Two years from now, I might give you the whole 'Flashing Lights' video, put 'I Wonder' in it, 'Say You Will' and songs that I feel like doing."
While West didn't draw a straight line from the conceit of "Flashing Lights" and how it relates to his life then and the premise of "Runaway" and his life now, he stressed their aesthetic similarities, including the dark establishing shot of "Flashing Lights" and the opaque opening of "Runaway."
"Look at it graphically, how it starts," he said of "Flashing Lights." "With the car, the orange sky, the color palettes, the blue sky, the car pulling up with the orange headlights. And just the beautiful women, taking the Helmut Newton type photo and bringing it to real life and crashing it against Jim Henson and George Lucas type whimsy and taking, like, a [Federico] Fellini, [Stanley] Kubrick pacing and a very graphic novel/ comic book type setup on all the shots. There's a lot of shots that are borderline illegal for a film student. It just breaks rules, because I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing."
Kanye West's "Runaway" will premiere Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV, MTV2 and BET, and will also stream live on MTV.com, BET.com and VH1.com, followed by a live Q&A session on MTV and MTV.com.