Bauhaus are often considered the quintessential gothic rock band, emerging from the post-punk scene of the late 1970s. Rounding off their series of mainstream single releases, “She’s in Parties” combines screeching guitar riffs with eerie lightbulb-lit scenes to produce a hypnotic spectacle.
Thematically, “She’s in Parties” is paralleled with another popular Bauhaus release – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. We are taken through a journey of years as an actor, pausing at scenes which are painted so vividly with simple yet beautiful lyricism. From the naïve beginnings of “Learning lines in the rain” to the tragically robotic routine of “Freeze frame, screen kiss, hot headlights”, theories point to a Marilyn Monroe reference.
The video itself, too, points to Hollywood stardom. Experimenting with light and angles, different cinematic approaches to filming the subjects (in this case, the band members) is the simple premise. Spotlights float around the environment, capturing vulnerable features and withholding identity.
Although voyeuristic and idolising, the extreme close-ups of mouths, teeth, eyes, and limbs leave the human form looking uncanny. On the other hand, when the camera captures direct shots of the members, they are directly addressing the audience. Techniques seem fragile and unpredictable, mirroring a volatile career with a doomed ending. Mise en scene is sparse, made of cold stone, litter, and pillars, which is reminiscent of brutalist architecture. The visuals aim to reinforce an uneasiness – an ‘off’ feeling – of celebrity and overexposure, of excess gaze.
Through jarring camera movements, angles, and different colour-hued black and white , the music video for “She’s in Parties” has undoubtedly solidified itself as one of the best of the alternative 80s scene. It both celebrates and criticises the world of cinema, through glorifying its cinematic techniques and dismantling the actor’s experience one lyric (and one stare) at a time.