Marcia Baila, 1987

PAL, sound, colour

The song and music video Marcia Baila pay tribute to a friend of the singer Catherine Ringer, Marcia Moretto, who danced for the Compagnie du Théâtre en Poudre, before her sudden disappearance.
This music video is particularly representative of the aesthetic of the band Les Rita Mitsouko and that of the mid-1980s. It combines rock music with a world that is at once urban, pictorial, and choreographic, containing references to cultures from every continent.
Seven painters from Figuration Libre and Graffiti Art (1)were chosen among the band's circle of friends to make thematic paintings, notably on Africa, Spain, and Egypt. The dances in different styles were performed by seven dancers with Modern Jazz and Flamenco backgrounds, or from the Lolita Dance, Régine Chopinot, and Performer schools. 2
This short film, recognised by the press as the best French music video ever made and chosen for the retrospective exhibition Video Music from 1963 to 1985 at the New York Museum of Modern Art, played an important role in the evolution of the director's career.
The song and music video Marcia Baila are catchy. The show mounted for this shoot reworks the “live” dynamic of a concert, with changes in sets and costumes determined by the various themes of the lyrics (a city, night life, references to dance from different cultures). The editing was devised in a narrative mode and is articulated around the succession of the chorus and verses. The show is thus interspersed with choreography and the illustration of certain lyrics that arise in short shots. On the words “the lovesick mermaid”, this fairytale character emerges on an elevated stage. A symbol in black and red corresponds to the evocation of a “hieroglyph”, framed in a close-up of a painting.
The constant transitions from close-ups to wide shots and long to very short sequences produces perpetual changes of space, in which the bright colours of the costumes, sets and illustrations are also refreshed. The rhythm, music, and song create a continuous support for this fragmented visual ensemble. Hence the party atmosphere, the happy memories evoked and the rock energy represented transcend the subject of death.
In this short film shot in 35 mm, various iconographic languages are used. They belong just as much to the culture of still images as to that of motion pictures, art, and advertising. The advertising or fashion photography particularly emerges in the fixed shot of the colourful sombreros that opens the clip. A new poster from the RATP's advertising campaign, produced by Futura 2000, is present in the clip in response to the partial sponsorship of the music video. The paintings play a role as sets that the camera presents along changing axes and in fragments. Philippe Gautier made the images readable in various ways, so that the interpretation of the clip would be fresh for successive airings. The camera axes or the position of objects in the on-screen space (the RATP poster is shown at an angle), the various framings, the play of light (a backlit scene, night, the white backdrop of the screen), the quantity of information, the movement in the image, and the length of the sequences all contribute to defining this hierarchy of interpretation.
Philippe Gautier made a second music video with Les Rita Mitsouko, entitled Andy, dis-moi oui, in which the spectator's gaze is drawn by the changes in framing and camera axes, set to a jerky rhythm. This external point of view of the staging is the opposite of the energy captured at the heart of the show in Marcia Baila.
Thérèse Beyler
1 Ricardo Mossner, Xavier Veilhan, Anne-Iris Guvonnet, Nina Childress, William Wilson, Richard Beaudemont and Jeff Gravis.
2 Darai Elies, Michel Prelonges, Arthur Wilkins, Hélène Odier, Mowgli Spex, Flore Buri, Santiago Sempere.