Laurent Boutonnat pop videos
March 11, 2011 4:30 AM   Subscribe

In the two decades starting in the 1980s, Laurent Boutonnat produced a series of atmospheric pop videos for Mylène Farmer, the chart-topping "French Madonna" who is little known outside the Europop circuit.

Produced to high-budget cinematic-quality standards, and often featuring provocative religious and sexual themes, they include: Désenchantée (video), Farmer's signature song - a bleak metaphor for the disenchantment of the times - in which a messianic figure leads an escape from a gulag; Tristana (video), a retelling of the Snow White story against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution; L'Âme-stram-gram (video), which borrows the visual style of Chinese martial arts films; Dégénération (video NSFW), in which an alien woman (shades of Fifth Element) escapes from a laboratory using erotic mind control powers; Libertine (video NSFW), a historical erotic drama inspired by Kubricks' Barry Lyndon and the works of de Sade; its sequel Pourvu qu'elles soient douces (video NSFW), a dark drama of lust and revenge set against a battle in the Seven Years' War; and Sans contrefaçon (video), the sad tale, inspired by Pinocchio and Apollinaire, of a ventriloquist whose dummy comes to life - but not for him.
posted by raygirvan (7 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I always assumed that generations of US French students learned about Mylène Farmer from her brainworm Dessine-Moi un Mouton which is of course a Le Petit Prince reference... but maybe that was just my high school, where this song was like a rite of passage for French 3.
posted by muddgirl at 6:09 AM on March 11, 2011

FYI, none of the video links work from Germany, sadly.
posted by _Lasar at 6:46 AM on March 11, 2011

If you're familiar with Mylène Farmer, you may find this funny. Otherwise....*shrugs*

and IIRC "L'ame-stram-gram" is a French version of "eenie meenie miney mo".
posted by Challahtronix at 8:38 AM on March 11, 2011

"Am stram gram" is, but it's a punning title that changes the first syllable to "L'Âme" = soul.
posted by raygirvan at 9:20 AM on March 11, 2011

French Madonna? Judging by the music, I'd expect "French Latoya Jackson" at best.

The videos are great, though, even if the music doesn't fit at all. Mute button FTW.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:05 AM on March 11, 2011

I think Boutonnat's work with Farmer is some of the best work ever done in the music video genre; I'm tempted to say the best. It's a shame he's never really gotten the recognition that peers like Michel Gondry or Anton Corbijn get. Musically, Farmer's always seemed more the French Kate Bush, than the French Madonna. She shares Madonna's pop instincts, but her "artiness" and something about her way of being the ingenue even in her sexiest videos reminds me of Kate.

Quebec was home to Mylène Farmer and Celine Dion. Somehow North America exported the wrong Québécoise.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:28 AM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

The eighteenth century set videos strongly remind me of Jacques Demy's Lady Oscar... but with worse costumes, and even worse wigs. I find it a bit annoying Farmer feels compelled to dress up like a guy in the period settings. But after all, men back then were so girly! They wore ponytails and tight pants! Why should she dress up in a gown? That would make her uncool. Or something.

Of course, if the music was better, maybe I'd be less critical. But IMO none of these even touch Madonna's Vogue performed at the MTV music awards in 1990, or Annie Lennox's Walking on Broken Glass.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:46 AM on March 11, 2011

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