Soleil, soleil, 1987

PAL, sound, colour

Soleil, Soleil is a music video for a nostalgic love song by Ahmed Fakroun, an Algerian singer living in France. The text sung in Arabic is not accessible to the French-speaking public. Its theme thus filters through the musical form, the evocation of the woman dancing amidst an abstract graphic world, and in the short fiction of the television viewer lulled by the sentimental atmosphere – a minor role played by Coluche, which launched the singer's career.

The idea of presenting the woman in this way refers on the one hand to a form of representation commonly used in Algerian Scopitones of the 1970s, and on the other, it responds to a broadcast problematic for this music video on French TV channels, at a time when North African singers and actors living in France were uncommon. The evolution of this socio-political question began in the 1980s, with the film Tchao Pantin, produced two years before Soleil Soleil (1984), starring Coluche and Richard Anconina, and marking a significant phase in this progression.

The editing of the clip alternates between four subjects, according the most amount of airtime to the sensual representation of the woman. The images are mostly wide and medium-wide shots in 35mm film, reworked in a video-editing suite, and based on a slow rhythm. Symbolically, the first and last sequence of the clip are still shots of the sea : they point to the geographic separation and a certain conception of popular songs shot in the country of origin, which differ from the point of view developed by the upcoming generation in the 1990s.

The subject of the song is represented by coloured lights and a text in Arabic projected onto a female body shot in negative, and onto white rectangles manipulated like pages within the screen. These patterns are inlaid onto the background, where undulating lights evoke the sun and a colourful world. The graphical and typographic language objectifies the subject. The body clad in a streamlined black suit and its fluid movement self-reflexively echoes Oriental images of women and dance. The sensuality and representation targets a much wider audience than those concerned by this musical genre.

Sequence shots in which the singer appears are less frequent. Fakroun is presented in the extreme simplicity associated with this category of pop music: standing before the lens, he makes broad gestures with his arms. His gaze is directed at the camera and the spectator, supporting the sung text through its intensity. His shirt and the monochrome backdrop of the screen are in complementary colours (red/green, orange/blue) that change with each of his appearances and thus play on harmonious associations.

The fictional world to which the television viewer belongs is sparingly depicted. Nonetheless, it splices the graphic representation in short sequence shots. It attracts viewers regardless of their musical tastes, through the presence of Coluche, and through the irony with which it represents the reception of this musical genre. A sailor, sitting in a large leather armchair with his fly undone smokes, drinks a beer, and dozes off. He wakes suddenly and makes an effort to concentrate on the clip. Shrugging his shoulder in time to the music, he indicates both that he is following the rhythm and that he is bored. This scene represents one of the relationships to music that television introduced. Jean-Baptiste Mondino highlighted this problematic of music videos in many of his productions. The apathy and passive consumption in Soleil Soleil are a far cry from the impact of the frenetic rhythm on the monkey-spectator in Les Rita Mitsouko's C'est comme ça, a short video made in 1985.

The graphic work featured in the clip is an innovation by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, present here in the form of abstract videographic 'painting' and developed in other short films that interact with formal elements in faster, jerkier rhythms, as in La danse des mots (1982) or Mia Bocca by Jill Jones (1987).

Thérèse Beyler
Translated by Anna Knight