‘All And Everyone’ is the final piece of a 12-part series of short films from PJ Harvey. These have all been made to accompany tracks taken from her latest album ‘Let England Shake’. You can the video now, exclusively on NME.com.
To introduce you to this final video installment, we’ve got some words from the director himself, Seamus Murphy:
‘All And Everyone’ is the last release in the series of 12 films, and the longest track on the album. Dark, formal and auspicious, it starts with epic gravitas and grandeur building to a controlled and inevitable finale, like death itself. The care-free singalong of the refrain: “As we advancing, in the sun, singing death to all and everyone” strikes me as soldiers meeting their ends with a tune in their heads, buoyed with love of each other and accepting their lot with a jeer. Its slowed-down delivery extends time like slow motion, a deliberate heightening of mortal last moments. It demands reaction and makes me think how cursory the nature of killing and being killed becomes during war, making it all the more worthless. It was the film I most looked forward to making, and most dreaded.
I found a clue to it in Essex at Old Leigh, a place recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and where the River Thames meets the sea. The film starts out with some imagery from Norfolk. With the ominous change in the music comes a day of brilliant morning sunshine under the pier at Southend. Later on in the day the weather turned filthy, becoming a snow blizzard and I had to spend an unplanned second night in Southend. The next morning a few miles along the coast towards London, heavy snows forced me to stop driving and I pulled in at Old Leigh. I quickly got bored stuck in the car and headed for the seashore. The tide was out and ropes and chains of fishing boats and other craft at anchor were being covered with wet snow, the scene resembled an art-directed battlefield in the grey light. I got soaked shooting this but it was better than listening to people on the radio going on endlessly on about local councils failing to grit their roads. Where was the Dunkirk spirit?
After shooting awhile I turned around and was dumb-struck by a vision of red roses delicately placed in the chains on the jetty wall. So discreet they were easy to miss if you weren’t on the shore looking back or in a boat at full tide. Were they put there for a particular victim, a memorial to all drowned fishermen, or an expression of doomed romantic love? This line of flowers, with the changing direction and speed of the falling snow gave me something to start working with in approaching All and Everyone. I thank the snow for making me stop.
The ending with the boat being launched and scudding across the sea was shot looking down over Chesil Cove in Dorset. I often had that languid saxophone solo in my head when shooting lengthy sequences, but chose this over other options because it goes on that bit too long. My biggest fear when shooting it was having stayed so long with the boat on a fixed tripod, would it fall out of the bottom of the frame before exiting the frame on left? It slimly made it. I loved the sea, the scale, the gathering gulls following the vessel and the tiny patch of land that is forever England.
PJ Harvey – A Buyer’s Guide
Read our review of ‘Let England Shake’
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