We start out with some sunset wildlife scenes, with animals traipsing around an African locale. It’s very cinematic and all, but then we start seeing fancy credits and I start to get nervous because I’m really not in the mood for an art film about poverty, animal injustice, and a political message that will force me to contemplate life. I just want to drink my beer, watch videos, and wail along with the songs until the po-po knock on my door and tell me to knock it off. (This is a skill I learned in college. That tuition money was well spent, let me tell ya.)
Luckily, it seems that the fine Coldplay folks just want me to be happy, and we suddenly cut to the image of someone wearing an elephant costume and standing behind the metal bars of a gate somewhere. The Elephant Man looks very sad, even though his outfit is cute, and then Elbert turns to a nearby wall with the stick figures of three more elephants and a lot of hash marks. Elbert adds another mark to the count and continues to look sad.
Is he keeping track of his days in captivity? Does he owe people money? Is he helping Coldplay count the millions they have made from record sales and merchandising ventures like Coldplay bath soap? Elbert doesn’t say, so perhaps his attorney has advised him to keep his mouth shut until after the trial is over.
Elbert suddenly decides that he’s had enough of living wherever he is (it appears to be a zoo) and he breaks the tiny little lock on his cage door (it appears that the zoo is a bit lacking when it comes to security) and Elbert runs like the wind. Two guard-like people make a half-ass attempt to chase after Elbert, but they give up when he finds a bicycle lying conveniently nearby. (Everyone knows that once an elephant gains access to transportation, it’s a done deal and you might as well go back to whatever you were doing before all the running started.)
Elbert rides the bike to a subway station, then he runs inside so he can hold up cardboard signs with the lyrics that lead singer Chris is now warbling. (No one bats an eye at this bit of business, because people in London are jaded and they’ve seen it all. Only people in small towns get excited over four-legged creatures holding cue cards.) We then kick off a montage of Elbert with the lyrics and Elbert riding the subway while absolutely no one pays him any mind, including a nun and what looks like Kevin Spacey after another questionable incident in a city park.
Eventually Elbert gets off the subway at Heathrow, a quiet little airport where nothing much happens and there’s never any traffic. (Not.) Continuing with our theme of “nobody noticing the elephant in the room”, Elbert is able to dash across a runway in broad daylight and sneak aboard an airplane. (Meanwhile, on the human side of things, bitter security-screeners are shoving cattle prods at 3-year-olds and grandmothers because somebody might have a bomb hidden in their pacifier or hip replacement.)
The plane takes off, and we have another montage of Elbert on his impromptu journey, snacking on spilled peanuts and riding on the luggage conveyor. Then the plane lands in an unnamed distant city, one also lacking in any type of serious security when it comes to pachyderms being where they shouldn’t be.
Elbert pauses in his travels to stand outside a graffiti-soaked building and do some more business with those cardboard lyric signs. This session involves considerably more choreography than the first one, with Elbert showing off a lot of smooth dance moves that he must have picked up from watching 80’s movies about drugs and rhythm. He also has one of those “please give” boxes where people can throw coinage if they are inspired by his antics, a move he must have picked up watching the American banking industry screw things up for a decade or so and then fly in a private jet to Washington with their hands out.
Then we have Elbert wandering down some street, and he happens to come across a bicycle shop. I guess he has a fondness for those things after one of them helped him with his big break, so he goes inside to find another little wheeled friend. Sadly, the only thing Elbert can afford (let’s not even ponder how he got the little money that he does have) is a unicycle. (Personal side note: I think unicycles are of the devil. There’s just something fundamentally wrong with those things.)
Anyway, next thing you know we have Elbert trucking down the middle of a highway on the unicycle. He’s got his thumb out, trying to hitch a ride, but no one seems interested in allowing a strange elephant into their car. (Would you? Even if you’ve been drinking?) There is one point during this segment where Elbert takes off his elephant head so we can see that, yep, it’s Chris inside there. Or maybe it’s Gwyneth. Not sure, somebody blond. Apple, maybe? How old is she these days? If she’s old enough to get a job, she needs to be doing something.
Oh wait, now Elbert seems to have made his way to the pretty African-plain place that we first visited in this video before we learned the story was going to involve animal-costume fetishes and illegal international travel. We see Elbert strolling along, carrying the unicycle instead of riding it (I told you those things were not right with Jesus). He comes upon a giraffe, who immediately runs away from him, which is a sad commentary on life if that creature is the only thing in the video thinking “there’s something a bit off with that elephant over there”.
Then Elbert spies three figures in the distance, and he studies them for a second before hurling the wretched unicycle to the ground and running to greet the rest of the Coldplay band, all of them in elephant costumes. They immediately launch into a celebration of freedom, homecoming, the ability to easily locate friends in a vast continent with relatively few road signs, and the joys of having very long trunks that swing in the wind.
This goes on for quite some time. These people are very happy to be reunited and it feels so good.
We eventually transition to the band playing at a live concert, wearing just the elephant heads and banging away on their instruments. Judging by the way the audience members are having orgasms and doing backflips, the whole elephant thing has apparently become a very important part of the Coldplay touring experience. And it does look like a lot of fun, in an odd, “Sesame Street on acid” kind of way.
The final shot is back in Africa, with the band members in full elephant-mode, running toward the camera with a startling intensity. The image of the one elephant with the polka-dot ears and the John Lennon glasses is probably my favorite, and I hope he wins for supporting actor at the MTV awards. Unless he hops on a unicycle. Then all bets are off…
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