Visuals help us tell our stories with impact and emotion. And when the visual is a powerful one, be it an image or video, the effect is magnified. Cinematography, in various forms, is considered visual storytelling. Music videos typically act as visual aids to music that artists produce.
The song “Send Them Off!” uses various expressions that are also used in religious terms. Dan Smith details an internal struggle to shake some insecurities – the insecurities that have been enforced in him are haunting him and he asks ‘religion’ to lay their ‘healing’ hands on him and cure him. This is often seen being practiced in some branches of Christianity. “Ritual” is never an appropriate choice of words to describe something good, so you get the surreal idea behind these lyrics.
I’ve got demons running round in my head
And they feed on insecurities I have
Won’t you lay your healing hands on my chest?
Let your ritual clean
Set me free from my jealousy
Won’t you exorcise my mind?
Won’t you exorcise my mind?
I want to be free as I’ll ever be
Exorcise my mind
Help me exorcise my mind
The music video begins with a young man waking up in almost a dream-like state. He realizes that he is being chased by a horned “demon.” His escape from this “demon” takes him through what may be considered as hell, purgatory, and eventually paradise.
The demon seems to be chasing the man and taking him through what appear to be some of the seven deadly sins. The first instance of this is the room with a young woman. She is surrounded by flying bugs that serve as reference to the plague of locusts in the Bible. This plague was meant to “devour what little you have left.” Moses would later tell the Pharaoh to: “Go, worship the Lord, your God.”
The following scene takes the main character into a burning room with people making out. The flames resemble hell while the people are representation of lust, one of the seven deadly sins. His running through each room may stand for Dan Smith’s encounter with these sins. He wants to be free of his demons.
The color red appears numerous times throughout the video. In the beginning, the young man finds a room where people are blindfolded with red cloth. These cloths stand for sin. He tries to run away from temptation but it follows him.
Isaiah 1:18 “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’”
This story is a part of the narrative with Rahab the harlot. Because she helped the Israelite spies, they told her she and her family could be spared, so long as they put a scarlet cord out of the window to signify that they are not to be hurt. Oddly enough, even though the Bible can use scarlet, red, or crimson as colors that symbolize sin, it is often the symbol that saves. The “blood of Christ” in Christianity is a symbol of salvation.
The scary-looking horseman may be our savior in this sense. He is completely covered in red and we do not see his face. He is unknown, a mysterey.
Exodus 12:7 “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat.”
The band itself seems to be stuck in purgatory, waiting in an abandoned old church and crossing path with the video’s main character before he ventures even farther into different circles of hell. Speaking with Radio.com about the song, Dan Smith said, “‘Send Them Off!’ I guess is a kind of, it’s a song of irrational relationship jealousy told very dramatically by the language of Desdemona in Othello, which is such a famous, classic jealousy narrative, but using some of the imagery from The Exorcist.” Given the horror movie that structured the song’s lyrics, it makes sense that the band turned to a similar theme when making its music video.
Wicks, Amamnda. “Bastille Blend Dante and Horror Flicks in New Video ‘Send Them Off!'” Radio.com. 30 Sept. 2016. Web.
Krauszer, Michael. “The Color Red.” Christian Crier. N.p., 03 Nov. 2014. Web.
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