"Iron Sky" by Daniel Wolfe

Winner at SXSW, this music video directed by Daniel Wolfe is a harrowing accompaniment to Paolo Nutini’s psych-rock song.

Paolo Nutini’s “Iron Sky” from the platinum-selling album Caustic Love was awarded the Jury Award in the music video category. It is a slow burner that explodes into a surreal exploration of mental anguish and relief. It takes a full two minutes for the music to kick in after the footage begins rolling. In this gap between the visuals and the music, a high-frequency tone rings and the characters relate various outer body and mind experiences.

Director Daniel Wolfe shot the music video over two days in Kiev, Ukraine. The eight-minute film contains an audio extract from Charlie Chaplin’s iconic 1940 anti-war satire The Great Dictator. 

“I was sent the track with no explanation from Paolo. As a child I stared at the planet Jupiter and had a vivid hallucinatory experience. A feeling of abject terror. In bondage to an omnipotent machine,” Wolfe told Little Black Book. “When I heard the Chaplin quote I remembered this clearly. So the video became a dystopian vision of the future as imagined by a child in the 80s.”

The terror is tangible in the short, with many of the characters possessed by addiction, suffering from fits, fighting with one another and dwarfed by imposing architectural settings. Shot documentary style, the film sequence sees different characters relating their experience of this dystopian future. Relief comes for some through chemical dependence and for others through ecstatic dancing.

Coupled with Nutini’s powerful vocals, the video speaks of human frailty and transcendence.