Thriller – Michael Jackson – Analysis


Michael Jackson’s Thriller is considered to be revolutionary in the music video world due to it’s short film typing, along with it being the first big budget music video, as well as it being the first being directed by a Hollywood director (that being John Landis (known from IMDb among other sources)).

Whilst the song is from the pop genre, the video itself is based around the horror genre, i.e. the prologue of the film enticing the audience into the actual story along with the un-dead and trapped within dream sequences. However, the video does link to the music in that there are certain motifs of the pop genre, mostly being the dancing which takes up a significant part of the video, once the zombies are around, it mostly focuses on the dancing.

The camera work in this video is the most significant technological aspect, within the prologue there is a shot reverse shot between Michael and the girl, this sequence of shots is often key to the horror genre in order to build the suspense of the scene. During this movie prologue, there is also a tracking shot when the girl is running, following her side. Tracking shots are also key within the horror genre in order to establish the victim of the scene, in this case it’s the girl. Usually editing would be seen as very apparent and important in pop songs, with a lot of editing to the beat; however there are only a few cases of this, John Landis likes to have the camera speak for itself a lot of the time.

Intertextuality is obvious throughout this video, the most prominent would be the introduction using themes set by the film ‘American Werewolf in London’ also directed by John Landis. The intertextuality seen comes from the transformation of the wolf, for example in the original film; there is the extreme long shot of the moon then the struggle of the pain of transforming into the beast. They also both have a close up of the wolf’s eyes at some point during the transformation;


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