Katy Perry cited "Dangerous Liaisons" and "Anna Karenina" as two of the inspirations for her dreamy "Unconditionally" video, which she premiered during "MTV First: Katy Perry 'Unconditionally'" on Tuesday.
But, those movies are just jumping-off points for the video. MTV News chatted with director Brent Bonacorso, who dished on what he wanted to capture in the video.
"When she sings this song she doesn't sing it lightly. This love that she speaks of is like a force of nature, epic storm and a tempest, and that's definitely something I wanted to capture," he said, adding that he wanted to capture a "more mysterious, elegant and sophisticated world to live in... less about a time period and more about creating an impression and a feeling."
That "feeling" is expressed using various unforgettable images, including a car crash and setting a bed on fire. But, what does it all mean? Well, he revealed all.
Crash Into Love
At one point, Katy gets hits by a car, a visual metaphor for the power of true love. "One of the key images that I think was pivotal in the video and just a very important concept to me. I once described the experience of falling in love like being hit by a car; suddenly your world is just so violently and dramatically changed. It hits you out of the blue," Bonacorso explained. "I shared this with Katy and she really loved that concept and really identified with it immediately, that she felt the same way."
Sex On Fire?
Fire and snow are two elements that play important roles in the video. And no image is as arresting as seeing a bed get lit on fire in the middle of a party. "And then we talked about how love can burn you like an inferno, like it's this fire inside you that you just have to let out," he said. "And, so she was really identifying with these concepts, and I think perhaps from her own experiences, she felt that those worked for her world and her experiences."
Not only does Katy get hit by a car, but she's surrounded by a tornado of colorful flowers. Those two images are related to one another, Bonacorso notes.
"It's a symbol of just joy that kind of joy in love, that explosion of color, explosion of wonderful things. The car crash and the kind of flower crash happen simultaneously," he said. "And the car crash obviously represents the sudden almost violent nature of love when it really gets its hooks into you and really changes your world. And then the flowers kind of represent that joyous and wonderful, yet still forceful impact of that love when it enters your life. And so we're kind of playing around with these two crashes. How beautiful and soft, but still spectacular that could be."
Is This A Dream?
Katy exists in two places, alone in the snow and also surrounded by dancers in a fancy ballroom. Those places are more psychological than physical.
He explained, "And the idea there is if you go along with non-narrative way of approaching this particular video, of using these metaphorical allegories to give this impression of love. Also, each world represents a different part of the subconscious."
Wise As An Owl
Katy befriends an owl in the video. And this winged pal plays a significant part in the story.
"Symbolically, again, using these dream-like allegories and there was quite a bit of thought put into this... but I wanted to create in the mind of the viewer this impression of unconditional love and the owl is just an undeniably powerful symbol of something strong, something free and something powerful," he said. "She lets it go into the world and that literally letting this force within her go wild. That's an important part of love is that you have to let it go. I believe there might be an old saying about that."