The name Mark Pellington might not ring a bell, but you’ve probably seen a few of his emotionally powerful films. I Melt With You, The Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road. Visually arresting, dark; “moving” in the best way. Pellington is best known as director of such iconic MTV videos as Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” U2’s “One,” and Alice in Chain’s “Rooster,” to name a very few. He is arguably solely responsible in music video for fusing the all-too-obvious with subtle, choke-your-heart imagery usually seen only in art-house movies. In short, he has elevated the music video into highest art, yet made it universally entrancing and accessible. Pellington was the first music-video director to mix found (and personal) footage with bands rocking out, flash-cut with nearly subliminal images—gnarled trees, weeping faces, swooping skies. Emotional blips barely registered, but potent. A hauntedness rarely tolerated in the current get-it-over-with-already impatience.
Pellington’s style not only embraces that regrettable stance, but reinvests it with dream-like lucidity—terror and bliss. Swirling visions at the edge of comprehension, building to a real-world effect hard to forget. An uncompromising take on a society no longer comfortable with naked truths. No stranger to personal tragedy, Pellington urges us to wake up and pay attention to our common darkness and hope. Never without hope, however black the path leading there. His video with Chelsea Wolfe, “Feral Love,” exemplifies a singular vision that refuses to be slapped down, no matter what.