A Deep Dive Into Evanescence’s Bring Me To Life Video
On March 4, 2003, two albums featuring the same song were released. One was Daredevil: The Album, the soundtrack to the not-great Ben Affleck superhero film, long before Netflix or the Marvel Cinematic Universe even existed. The other was Fallen, the debut album by gothic nu-metallers Evanescence. The song, Bring Me To Life, was a big-ass sweeping operatic number; a dramatic, heart-wrought power ballad that sold in the millions.
The accompanying video is predominantly gravity-based, so let’s embrace that and take a big ol’ jump in!
We’re swooping through a city. Not just any city, the most CGI-tastic city in the world. 2003’s computers must have been absolutely straining at the cogs to render this. There are neon signs, Gothic domes, fog-covered skyscrapers… It’s half Batman Returns, half Batman Forever.
Ah, some nice piano. Pleasant. This flythrough is very calming – it’s like being a very, very slow Spider-Man.
That gargoyle is not a very good bit of CGI, really, is it?
What a lovely operatic voice. It belongs to Amy Lee – mezzo-soprano co-founder of Evanescence – who wrote this song about an encounter she had in a restaurant with a friend of a friend. She was in an unhappy, abusive relationship at the time, but doing her best to hide it, and she felt like this guy could see right into her. “And he looked at me and said, ‘Are you happy?’ And I felt my heart leap, and I was like, he totally knows what I’m thinking,” she said. She is now married to him. Awwwww.
She’s having a nap, the big lazy. Wake up, Amy, this nu-gothic rap-metal anthem won’t sing itself!
Oops, she’s plummeting through the air now, ever so calmly. Again, the effects haven’t necessarily stood the test of time – it’s all a bit , ‘Fuck it, let’s slap a load of filters on.’
But she’s still in bed, so it’s a dream. Special effects can be shit in dreams. It’s all fine! Look at how fancy her pillows are. Someone’s doing alright!
Wouldn’t it be horrible if she just landed on a pavement now and splattered all over the place, and the remaining three minutes of the video were just a static shot of her, all mangled? It certainly would! Director Philipp Stölzl would probably consider it though – he spent several years as Rammstein’s go-to guy, so knows his way around a bit of fucked-upness. He’s also directed operas and several German films, including one called Goethe!, with an exclamation mark, about the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – sort of like in Friends when Joey is in a similarly exclamation-marked play about Sigmund Freud, called Freud!.
You know how people sometimes talk in their sleep? Imagine if you found out you sang beautifully in your sleep. Like, in your waking hours you had a voice like a dog farting off a boat, but in your sleep you had the voice of an angel. That could be a film, probably. A quite short film. Someone make that.
A residential block in CGItown – these days this would probably just be done using a real building and a drone, but it obviously made sense in 2003 to just computer the fuck out of it. It feels like the song’s over! But the song’s not over!
Look, it’s the rest of Evanescence, in a padded room, featuring guest vocalist Paul McCoy of the Christian rock band 12 Stones, performing at a window.
It’s a very strange room, isn’t it? It’s got padded walls like a room in an old-fashioned asylum, but halo-esque suspended neon lights like you absolutely wouldn’t put anywhere near such a room.
The dude with the blonde spiky hair, goatee and snarl is Ben Moody, who co-founded the band but left due to creative differences just six months after this song came out. Continuing with the superhero theme, he went on to contribute songs to both the Punisher and Fantastic Four soundtracks, as well as working with Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Lindsay Lohan and Halestorm.
Paul McCoy’s band 12 Stones are explicitly a Christian band. Evanescence, in the early days, were marketed as one as well, but following Ben Moody’s departure put out a statement saying they were secular and played music for entertainment rather than spreading any sort of message. This caused them to be removed from a lot of Christian radio stations, which apparently are a thing. McCoy’s presence – or rather, the presence of any dude at all sharing vocal duties – was insisted upon by Evanescence’s record label. Amy Lee later recounted: “It was presented to me as, ‘You’re a girl singing in a rock band, there’s nothing else like that out there, nobody’s going to listen to you. You need a guy to come in and sing back-up for it to be successful.’”
Amy is on a ledge, there, and ‘ledge’ contains all the letters of her surname, so that’s interesting.
It’s not a house party without a creepy-ass clown leering out of the window, is it?
The creepy clown is actually a sad lady. TWIST!
As mentioned above, Bring Me To Life was on the Daredevil soundtrack – that’s where this CGI city came from. Daredevil was co-created by Stan Lee, who had the same surname as Amy Lee here. The same year, 2003, in The Times, there was an interview with Ang Lee conducted by the comedian Stewart Lee about the film Hulk, featuring a character created by Stan Lee. Confusing as hell. Just to throw some more confusion in it, Bruce Banner was played by Eric Bana. Lee/Lee/Lee/Banner/Bana. Fuck 2003, it was stupid.
She’s very good at climbing, isn’t she? She’s like Spider-Man, also created by Stan Lee, who, again, has the same surname, zzzzzzz…
That is Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, but only visually – on the album, the drums were performed by the awesome Josh Freese (of The Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails and Sting fame). Gray is now in We Are The Fallen with other former Evanescence members Ben Moody and John LeCompt.
That is not good compositing. Why are her shoulders blurry? What kind of computer was this made on, a fucking ZX Spectrum?
If you’re playing with your band several floors up and someone appears on the ledge outside, let them in. Don’t wait for them to finish a verse, or look for an opportune moment to add some rapping. Let them the fuck in. It’s dangerous.
Fucked it, mate. You opened the window to let her in and knocked her off the ledge, damn. That’s the opposite of what you were meant to do really, wasn’t it?
As Paul McCoy does his rap, which isn’t a good rap, look at his necklaces. He’s wearing at least one too many of those necklaces. The top one just seems like it’s sitting uncomfortably high on his neck, doesn’t it? Like, if you gave him a hug, that padlock would press his Adam’s apple through the back of his neck. Don’t hug him.
The whole sequence where Lee is dangling was referred to by MTV as the ‘money shot’ of the video. The director was torn about it, saying “On the one hand, it brings out the most catchy part of the song, the bridge, the duet with the male and female vocals. On the other hand, it reflects the Daredevil soundtrack background of the song.”
Stölzl said: “I did not know if I would have to use a stunt double for most of the angles, which would have restricted me a lot, but then it turned out that Amy did everything herself, hanging on Paul’s arm for hours without getting tired. In the end, she is the one who made that shot strong.” Lee ended up getting offers to star in films after this video came out, although she chose not to explore that avenue.
12 Stones are still going, and have released five albums, the latest being 2017’s Picture Perfect.
Oh for fuck’s sake, Paul, you’ve let go of her…
Behold, the face of a man who has, twice in quick succession, done exactly the opposite of what you should do to help someone stuck on an outside ledge.
Sorry to harp on about the graphics, but shouldn’t only one of the elements be blurry? Like, if the background was blurry but she was in focus, that would make sense. Both being blurry, while she remains relatively central in shot, suggests she’s… vibrating at a high speed?
It’s all a dream, of course. Thank shit for that!
Yeah, look ashamed.
There’s the gargoyle again, which has possibly moved buildings. Shit, all this focus on sleeping and climbing and falling and rapping, and there was some statues-coming-to-life action happening just out of frame!
And that’s the end. Endanescence. Endanescend. Fun! Thanks!
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According to the band’s Instagram, the exchange appears to be all in good humor.