Every new commercial for Chanel No.5 is a small idyll and the reason isn't very hard to see: we're talking about the perfume industry's most sacred totem. The amount of ink and gigabytes spent to write about No.5 (and the whole Chanel mythos) is spilling forth and my cup filleth. But still I was left sort of mesmerized upon watching the latest Chanel No.5 video commercial, directed by Aussie maverick & iconoclast Baz Luhrmann (who might possibly never surpass his Romeo & Juliet 1990s film adaptation, but who's interesting and relevant all the same).
The credits come full circle as Luhrmann had directed the 2004 commercial starring a fledgingly scary-looking at the time (notice the eyes) Nicole Kidman as "a dancer" (but really a celebrity) who pushes away Rodrigo Santoro (then becoming famous through his participation in 300) in what was an almost bankrupting filming for the French brand of luxury goods. The couture gowns designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the jewelry, the body suit and high heel pumps, the chauffeured limos, the skyscraper views, the dancing routines, the red carpet exit, the Debussy music…
Luhrmann doesn't really cut down on budget for the new Chanel No.5 commercial for 2014 and again uses a well known male actor to his feminine heroine, the giga-super-model Gisele, this time Game of Thrones' Michel Huisman. In fact this is the first time that the heroine in those commercials doesn't shy away from a man, but seeks him out.
But what really stands out is the genius use of music, Lo Fang's extra slow (like, 5 times slower than normal) cover of The One That I Want, the famous Grease song that vindicated a generation or two.
Of course I disagree with Lurhmann that Gisele embodies the multi-tasking character of Coco Chanel (a much more manipulative and sharply street-smart woman, what in Greek we call "καπάτσα"), but she looks good (in not only gorgeous-gams-and-hair way, but also convincing in her anxiousness during role playing). Additionally the fact that the director and scripting didn't get her to speak any lines is clever; why shatter the perfect image? It's all played through direction, something that shows very well in the 3-minute long film (shorter snippets of 30 and 60 seconds will play on TV screens during the countdown to Christmas).
Lurhmann, a man known for his grandiloquence, also makes use of some personal leitmotifs: the Queensboro bridge driving-through shot which he used in his Nicole Kidman commercial for No.5, his The Great Gatsby and now for the latest Chanel commercial, for one. To Baz it's a shot out of Fitzgerald's novel that suggests inner turnmoil, much like the Brooklyn bridge stands out in filming as a symbol of faith in industrialization (or even the unification of America, such as in Atlantis poem by Hart Crane).
The commercial of Chanel No.5 featuring Gisele isn't as dreamy as the Audrey Tautou Chanel commercial (who unsurprisingly did embody French cuteness to a T), which had been directed by Jeanne Pierre Jeunet, but it's rather charming all the same. For instance, I absolutely love the clever association of "chills" in the lyrics to the water bubbles shown and the famed zing of aldehydes on the top perfume notes of this most classic floral aldehydic fragrance. And I also smile watching the very cute mother & daughter spraying a cloud of perfume in the air ritual]. The Chanel commercial, especially for something as timless and "old" is better mannered than Dior's latest J'Adore 2014 commercial (which basically told us off if we romanticize any sort of timelessness). Assuredly a step into the right direction after the catastrophe of sanctioning that Brad Pitt commercial (and patching things up last season with a Marilyn tape transcript). Well done Chanel!
Related reading on Perfume Shrine:
The most incredible Chanel No.5 commercial ever is from 1982
Chanel No.5 Through the Years: Iconography and Advertising
Clips of old Chanel No.5 commercials
Collective PerfumeShrine Posts on Chanel No.5 (scroll)