Documentary Review: Miroir Noir
Day after day I checked my mailbox after class, and day after day I was disappointed. But alas, this past week finally brought great joy to my world, as my Miroir Noir special edition DVD finally arrived in the mail. It’s been a few months since the first announcements for this documentary, which features Arcade Fire and everything surrounding the release of Neon Bible in 2007, surfaced and I couldn’t try and count how many times I had watched the trailer. And when Pitchfork streamed it for a week I managed to only watch about 5 minutes, as to not ruin the arrival of my leather bound accordion styled DVD case.
So hype abound and anticipation boiling over, I watched Miroir Noir from start to finish and immediately followed it with the special features disc. I couldn’t get enough Neon Bible. Which is interesting to note because that album really put me off for about a year before I finally started enjoying it.
The way the Documentary is shot is amazing, first off. I’ve seen various live DVDs and documentaries by now, and I enjoy most of them merely for the fact that they offer a different view about said band without really doing anything too crazy or original. But the fascination I now have with Miroir Noir stems from the fact that it mixes behind the scenes bits with well shot and breathtaking live tracks. Most interestingly though, it integrates one of the best fan involved projects ever: the Neon Bible telephone hotline. Playing various clips from fans (and one guy they apparently lost and who would have been “the greatest fan ever”) overtop of some abstractly shot yet perfectly placed scenes makes the documentary sometimes feel more like a movie than a straight live compilation.
There’s one scene in particular, where Regine is just running down the beach as the camera follows. It’s incredibly shaky and half-hard to make out who it is at first, but then to see the members of Arcade Fire like Regine with their guard down and their smiles wide is an engrossing feeling (almost like when the percussion parts collide in “My Body is a Cage”). Another thing that astonished me was the way Win Butler was portrayed through all of it. I sort of always took him for a complete asshole, a man who seemed closed off and very bitter yet powerful. But in Miroir Noir there’s a scene of him and another band member just dancing around while he lip syncs and smiles; it’s revealing, and it’s something that a lot of other documentaries never really touch on: the human side of things.
Seeing the glee in Regine’s eyes and voice when she finally gets to record “No Cars Go” with a full orchestra is beautiful. The examples go on and on, and sometimes out-do the brilliant filming done during the live shows. Close up, perfect audio, and great crowd clips all coupled with a few times when the camera work is so great you forget about the music itself make the DVD a worthy purchase for any and all Arcade Fire fans.
I own the special edition, which features some great clips if you can afford the $25 price point instead of $15. A couple of SNL clips, including the hard to find parts when their sound gets cut out and they perform in the crowd. An extensive and awesome BBC session (worth the ten dollars alone) and then some other late night takes as well. Coupled with the better packaging and you’re looking at a great collector’s item if you’re a big fan of their work.
As far as documentaries go… 9.5/10
Directed by: Vincent Morisset
Shot by: Vincent Moon