Director: Mark Romanek
Audience: 15-24 (24-35)
This song was originally written for David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997)
Nine Inch Nails: The Perfect Drug (1997) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.
setting of the video.
The first shot, the removal of a lens cap from a Victorian camera, into a mirror to give the effect of fish eye immediately sets the tone, the lighting is dark and tinted blue to show this idea of moodiness and a dark environment, you can see clearly that the walls are grimy and dirty. This is elaborated on in the next shot, a long shot of Reznor at 0:04 seconds, the floorboards are dirty and covered in litter, various instruments hang up behind him and he's staring at music sheets and yet he isn't actually doing anything other than staring which lends itself to the idea that the character is depressed, he's hunched forward over the piano, he'. The next shot at 0:05 is a very brief close up of the three band members playing string instruments, once again the black clothing is revealed to be a fit with the general visual style of the video. The next shot at 0:06 is Reznor by himself playing the same instruments as his band, sitting, long shot facing the camera. At 0:09, we have a medium close up of Reznor staring at the music sheets featured previously, the shot is more side on profile, we takes a deep breath and sighs, once again the indication that he's not a healthy individual. The next shot is framed interestingly. it's of a urn but only the bottom out of shot and the sky, lending the idea of a highly stylised music video.
At 0:14 it makes a return only this time the bottom is seen with a pair of legs and the rest of the body hidden, the idea being hinted at appears to be death of someone, the sky is very grey/blue. At 0:22, it's revisited again for a close up, but once again the shots are very brief, the pace of editing here is rapid.
At 0:29 the framing of the shot is very interesting because we can see half of Reznors head hidden behind a curtain as he lip sync's.
2:33 the video goes green tinted, to match with the drum solo, the pace of editing here picks up rapidly- the green tint to signify the alcohol taking control of the character. At 2:58 the video appears to take much more melancholy video with a longshot showing the full body of the character, leaning towards the camera following the melancholy.
An example of the abstract imagery
The video is very dark throughout in terms of actual lighting, with the opened shot of the singer and a small boy looking in a mirror removing the cap of an old fashion style camera. Instantly showing that this isn't set in the modern day, reinforced by the attire of the two characters. The video prominently features abstract Victorian imagery and is overall a very 'concept' driven video- however if you watch closely you can see certain aspects of narrative- the reoccurring image of the young boy for instance throughout the video hints at some form of meaning. Listening to the lyrics in the last minute of the song it's implied that the boy has died (as indicated by the two women dressed in black) and that the father (the singer/ Trent Reznor) is in mourning and has turned to alcohol, also indicated t.hrough the green liquid shown in several extreme close up shots.
The location is VERY gothic and dark, the old Victorian esq walls, something seen in previous industrial videos, where the focus here is not on the decay of society but on the decay of the mind, as indicated though Reznors decline into alcohol abuse in the video.
hinting at the 'meaning'
As indicated by the abisinth seen in select shots. There are several long shots of the father, often alone or staring into the distance at something out of shots, as the video goes on these shots are often revisited for close-ups to put emphases on the isolation of the character, in several shots however he appears to be hidden or hiding (i.e the water shots and curtain ones.)
A med-close up showing the father
looking out of shot.
At the time the video was fairly expensive with the refrigerated set used and the renting of certain artworks featured throughout the video, these led to a reported $1million music video