In all the excitement over the impending release of Kanye West’s new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (as well as his ongoing “G.O.O.D. Friday” project, the upcoming Watch the Throne EP with Jay-Z and the forthcoming albums from West label members Big Sean and Kid Cudi), it’s somewhat easy to forget that West also has a film coming out. The producer-turned-filmmaker unveiled the 35-minute flick (titled “Runaway,” just like his masterful single of the same name) on Wednesday night (October 6) in London.
The surreal film follows a relatively straightforward narrative, tracking the fall of an actual phoenix (as in the mythical fire bird), West’s love for said woman (played by former Victoria’s Secret model and “The Celebrity Apprentice” contestant Selita Ebanks) and the trouble she runs into once she assumes mortal form. But there are plenty of strange and beautiful images folded into it, as well as music from West’s upcoming album. Based on reports from the screening, it’s an intense and gorgeous experience that should earn West some serious credibility as a filmmaker.
In fact, West isn’t afraid to openly discuss his inspirations. When he introduced the piece in London, he said “’Purple Rain’, [Pink Floyd’s] ’The Wall’, Michael Jackson’s ’Thriller’ — I wanted to do a modern version of that.” Those are some pretty intense associations, as “The Wall” was a huge breakthrough for the crossover between rock and film, “Purple Rain” is among Prince’s greatest accomplishments and Jackson’s “Thriller” is largely considered to be one of the finest music videos ever committed to tape.
But West didn’t stop there, as he told the crowd that he also drew from impressionist painters Picasso and Matisse (the latter of whom is probably most famous for “Dance”).
Those are a lot of disparate influences, but it makes sense for West, who has kept his affinity for fine art, fashion and design as public as his taste in music and movies. And nobody is better at channeling outside influences through his own twisted personality, which is why My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the most anticipated albums of the year and why “Runaway” will be one of the biggest film-related events this season.