UNKLE Thom Yorke – Rabbit In Your Headlights – Music video analysis

UNKLE + Thom Yorke – Rabbit In Your Headlights – Music video analysis

This music video analysis of Rabbit In Your Headlights by UNKLE featuring Radiohead’s singer Thom Yorke is an abstract from our tutorial e-book 14 music videos.

Music video analysis
PDF, 133 pages

The video tells the story of a mad guy who will surprisingly overcome the dangers he met while walking in a tunnel full of cars.

UNKLE Thom Yorke – Rabbit In Your Headlights music video – Shot by shot analysis

00:00 A hand honks fiercely inside a car, under the rain. The music starts.

Point of view: the telling begins in the first person view, in the shoes of some angry driver.

Theme: we cannot know it yet, but this horn introduces the fundamental theme of the risk of death (horns are of course, used for warning people of impending danger).

00:07 A camera shot shows cars driving in a tunnel in the direction of the camera.

Point of view: it becomes omniscient and will stay so on average, despite frequent changes back to the first person view.

00:08 A pedestrian is walking in the middle of this tunnel road, seen from afar and from behind. He is dressed in a blue-grey coat. People honk their horns over the instrumental music playing in the soundtrack.

Characterization: this pedestrian will soon become the Hero of this plot.

Horn: pattern repetition of the imminent danger.

00:15 The pedestrian is now seen from the front, walking in one of the lanes of the road. Some cars are quickly getting closer to him.

Point of view: the frequent changes (already three in 15 seconds) of the type of narration (first person view = personalized or omniscient = depersonalized), create a feeling of emergency, speed, and dynamism.

Characterization: the video dramatizes the very progressive revelation of the Hero’s identity by delivering it bit by bit, one element after the other: from the back, from the front, then closer…

World: the side of the road the cars are driving on (the left) allows the audience to deduce that the action takes place in a country where this is the law, like the UK or Australia. Since Radiohead is an English band, we can assume the video takes place somewhere in England.

Theme: the latent conflict between the car’s force and speed and the pedestrian’s vulnerability confirms and intensifies the impression of imminent danger created by the violent honking (effect of repetition).

00:20 The pedestrian is seen from the exterior mirror of a car which has just overtaken him and driven off, while the song is starting: “I’m a rabbit in your headlights…”

Point of view: we are briefly back to a first person view – which is strangely depersonalized (since we do not know who is attending the action).

The synchronization between this point of action and the lyrics that say, “I’m a rabbit in your headlights…” blends with irony. The man is really like a rabbit in the car’s headlights…

00:24 This pedestrian is shot for the first time close up and from the front, so we now discover his face. He is busy speaking alone, looking straight ahead of himself. Partly because of the music, we cannot hear nor understand what he is saying. He murmurs, then speaks louder, then shouts a few words that echo in the tunnel. The language he is speaking does not sound like proper English.

Point of view: the progressive revelation of the Hero’s identity continues.

Characterization: the fact that the Hero is talking to himself (or to some imaginary friend?) out loud and in a language that we cannot understand makes him appear mad-like. The crescendo in his gibberish – murmur, words, shouts – makes it even more dramatic.

World: the strange, English-like language used by the Hero represents a new indication of the fact that the action probably takes place in England.

00:37 The walker continues his way in the middle of the road. Some cars approach. The man is still speaking out loud to himself and in his delirium, he even plays out a few weird fighting moves.

Point of view: the progressive revelation of the Hero’s identity goes on.

Characterization: the undetermined aspect of the Hero’s walk, then his boxing movements, implicitly show that he has a goal and is ready to fight. This goal will never be revealed however, which generates an effect of information distribution asymmetry, a sensation of mystery, of growing dramatic tension: where is he going in spite of the obvious danger? Who or what is he actually fighting?

Theme: pattern repetition of the imminent danger represented by the cars which threaten the Hero’s safety.

00:50 He screams again.

Characterization: new indication of the Hero’s madness.

Did you enjoy reading the beginning of this music video analysis? Do you want to read more?

Do you want to learn to write a music video script?

Then read our e-book: 14 Music Videos.

PDF, 133 pages
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