I'm not much of a jewelry fan, let alone diamonds; it's both an aesthetic and ethical thing. I know I don't understand how diamonds reach our local jewelry store, but I have seen Blood Diamond and that's enough to give me pause. What I know I dislike is the fairly traditional approach to super-lux fashion advertising, mainly because it makes me feel dirty. The exteme wealth, the arrogance, the self-centeredness, the contrast and ambivalence to extreme poverty in the world. Blah. It makes me wish all the effort and money that goes into buying such unnecessary things could somehow be used for something better. (Admittedly, this is a bit of hypocrsy, since I'll gladly spend money on the latest gadget which has similarly inhumane origins. I'm a flawed human, see.)
The lastest film from French jeweler, Cartier, is definitively an example of this type of advertising but has pushed the genre to such a ridiculous extreme that it actually is worth watching. It's so overwrought that it's good. The company is saying this about the new epic short film: "Discover the new Cartier film, a journey between dream and reality. For the very first time, Cartier has decided to create a cinema epic focusing on its history, its values and inspiration, its artistic and universal scope." The film—shot by French director Bruno Aveillan, one of the country's premier commercial directors—was screened first time at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on February 29, according to Wikipedia.
Coming it at just over three and a half minutes, the film takes the viewer on quite the visual journey. It's decadent, extravagant, and excessive but also beautiful. The story is broken into seven chapters: First Breath, Land of the Tsars, Love and Trinity, The Celestial Dragon, Indian Dream, Conquering the Skies, and the Panther. Some of the symbolism is lost on me (some is too obvious to miss), but nothing has been spared to make the experience feel as opulent as the jewelry the company sells. Check it out.
L'Odyssée de Cartier:
What I do appreciate is that the company is also providing background information that rounds out, and extends, the interaction one can have with the story. There's a great behind the scenes video, which I have taken the trouble of downloading and republishing in an embeddable format. Watch that below. You can also download the score, which is nice too. Perhaps you can play it when you spend six months of your salary on diamond necklace for that special someone who puts a price on your love. Kidding, kidding.
Making of, L'Odyssée de Cartier (in French but still enjoyable):
To top it all off, there is also a gallery of their Panthere, where the brand explains why they have used the large cat as a symbol for their products, along with a few images taken during the shoot. I appreciate that much of the cat was shot live-action and not CG. Makes a big difference.
Again, this isn't the type of advertising that I aspire to, beyond having a budget and freedom to tell a story, but it is grand and hard to ignore. So on that level, it succeeds like few ads have so far this year.
And, yes, I'm still working on the Fifty Flag series, loyal readers. More to come soon on that front.