One Direction ‘Kiss You’ Director Dissects Video’s Pop-Culture Throwbacks

MTV News speaks to Vaughan Arnell, who breaks down the meaning behind the sailor costumes and Hawaiian shirts.

Watching One Direction‘s video for “Kiss You” is kind of like a visual encyclopedia, with references to some of the most iconic films of the ’50s and ’60s. Sure, the guys quite overtly pay their respects to Elvis Presley’s classic 1957 film “Jailhouse Rock,” but nestled in each moment of the colorful video are many a homage to other classic films and moments of that bygone era.

To help MTV News comb through those references we got the video’s director, Vaughan Arnell, on the phone to break down what he wanted to capture in the video, which was released on Monday.

The Kings Of Pop
The video reimagines the fivesome as Elvis Presley, the hip-shaking icon that helped pave the way for the modern-day teen heartthrob. “No, I don’t think its poking fun,” Arnell said of their slightly goofy version of the icon. “You get the idea you take the first few bars of the track and it’s kind of that Beach Boys surf movie, ’50s or ’60s kind of vibe to it all. It’s not like a poking fun; it’s more like an homage and then it’s what can we put them in it that people may know or kind of tip of the hat idea.

“When it’s iconic films or iconic ideas, I think people understand genre and then they could kind of flow with it,” he continued. “It was more kind of not trying to make them Elvis; it’s more to the technique and the charm of those films.”

To Catch a Boybander
Believe it or not, parts of the film were inspired by the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock classic, “To Catch a Thief.” It’s not so much the tone, but the way both of the projects were created that speaks to one another.
“The romance of the back projection that, the Hitchcock movies have and then you have the Elvis ‘Blue Hawaii’ stuff, it looks kind of cool,” he explained. “I like the naivete of when they had a projector projecting a bit of scene behind. I think it gives it so much charm [and recalls] the looks of Doris Day [movies] and things. I think the colors in those films were really beautiful and then the English thing of Cliff Richard in [the 1963 film] ‘Summer Holiday.’ And then we just inject the whole thing with One Direction. I don’t think anybody was 100 percent sure what it was going to look like until they finished it.”

Shaken, Not Stirred
The guys of One Direction do look pretty great in tailored suits, so it should be no surprise that Arnell was inspired by one of the greatest British pop-culture icons of all time, James Bond. “There was like a sort of James Bond, some ‘Thunderball’ where he’s driving. There was nothing that was too remote that they didn’t understand [when it came to the references]. You could see how the two echoed each other and if the two echoed each other and mirrored each other we knew it worked,” he said.

Technicolor Dreamboats
And, finally, Directioners probably have played out the shirtless surfing scenes on repeat since the video premiered on Monday. But, the scene almost didn’t happen. “It’s just really good, fun,” Arnell said of the various costumes (and lack thereof) in the video.

“It was really weird when you turn around and you saw One Direction dressed as sailors from the ’50s or when they had their Hawaiian shirts on and it was quite good fun,” he added. “And I think it gives them a good foil to play with. But they were a bit scared, they didn’t want to take their shirts off for the surfing scenes, which they said they would only do it if I did it too, which I think would scare everybody because I look like a pregnant whale. I got out of that one. I didn’t have to do it.”

What’s your favorite part of 1D’s “Kiss You” video? Leave your comment below!