Pioneering director Michel Gondry's remarkable creative energy and ability to innovate have resulted in some of the most visually stunning music videos in the history of the medium, and his wild imagination and organic, childlike imagery raised the bar of what one could achieve in the short format. In particular, his technique of placing numerous cameras around a subject and combining the images to form a visually astonishing sweeping effect has become so popular that it has since gone on to achieve timeless notoriety in such films as the The Matrix. With a family background that consists of a number of inventors and technological innovators, Gondry, not surprisingly, is seen as a bottomless wealth of imaginative innovation.
Michel Gondry is a native of Versailles who was raised in a freethinking family that encouraged and supported his creative endeavors; his parents harbored a deep love of pop music and the works of Duke Ellington, in particular. Gondry's grandfather Constant Martin is often credited with creating one of the earliest synthesizers (the Clavioline), and although his father would often bemoan his own lack of musical inspiration, he kept the spirit alive by owning a shop that sold musical instruments. Though the shop would eventually go out of business due to the elder Gondry's generosity toward burgeoning musicians (Michel claims that his father would practically give his instruments away), that generosity did extend to his immediate family, and young Michel and his brother were given a drum kit and a bass guitar, respectively, before the shop closed its doors. Subsequently forming a punk rock band with his brother, Gondry would also collaborate with his siblings on a series of short films in which the youngsters were constantly striving to break new technological ground.
Though Gondry's earliest career ambitions were to follow in his grandfather's footsteps as an inventor, his skills as a draughtsman led him to art college in Paris, where he would form the band Oui Oui with some close friends. It was the remarkably visionary videos that Gondry created for the band that propelled his early sparks of inspiration into a virtual inferno of creativity. Mixing animation with live action to create a series of wildly surreal and strangely beautiful worlds, the videos would serve as a calling card to the world of film. It was his videos for Oui Oui (in particular the video for the song "La Ville") that peaked the interest of eccentric singer Björk, and the two artists were soon collaborating on the video for her song "Human Behavior" from her post-Sugarcubes solo debut album. A visually extravagant study in the quirks of humans as expressed through various species of the animal kingdom, the groundbreaking video first aired in 1993, stunning viewers across the globe. Its organically outlandish images perfectly complimented the singer's unique musical style and served as the beginning of an enduring collaboration between the two artists.
Though Gondry would frequently return to work with Björk in the following years, the success of the "Human Behavior" video found such popular artists as the Rolling Stones, Massive Attack, Kylie Minogue, and Beck clamoring to collaborate with the visionary director. Always looking to create and invent new ways of shooting music videos, Gondry offered something fresh and original in each of his new efforts, effectively breathing fresh air into the somewhat stagnant (at the time) format. His video for the French band IAM's track "Je Danse le Mia" pioneered the morphing technique that would become increasingly prevalent in film and video throughout the 1990s. During this time, Gondry would also helm commercials for such notable clients as Levi's, Nike, and BMW. Subsequent videos for such bands as the White Stripes and the Foo Fighters found him consistently working with some of the hippest bands around.
Of course, it was only a matt