REVIEW: Steven Spielberg’s Video for Marcus Mumford’s “Cannibal”

Stick to the flicks, Stevie!

Marcus Mumford singing in his music video for "Cannibal"
Marcus Mumford/YouTube
Cinema Verité

Steven Spielberg is, depending on how you look at it, either the No. 1 or No. 2 greatest living American film director. At 75 years old he’s still cranking out some of his best work, but I guess that gets old after a while. Maybe that’s why he’s done a reverse-David Fincher and gone from directing films to directing music videos. For his first foray into the MTV arts, he has directed the video for Marcus Mumford’s debut solo single, “Cannibal.”

This does seem like a random pairing at first, but if you think about it for two seconds it will make sense. Mumford is married to famous actress/his childhood penpal Carey Mulligan. Carey Mulligan is starring in Gawker’s most-anticipated film, Maestro (she plays Maestro’s wife). Spielberg is producing Maestro. Apparently they all hit it off, and a few weeks ago they got together in a high school gym and Spielberg shot this on his iPhone.

The thing about shooting on an iPhone — as we know from the work of the other Steven (Soderbergh) — is that you can always tell, even in black and white. People love to be like, “Wow, you can shoot a whole movie on an iPhone.” And like, yeah, you can, but it doesn’t look as good as an ARRI or a Red.

Spielberg also shot the whole thing in one take, which must have rocked for him because he didn’t have to edit anything. In an Instagram post, Mumford shared a picture of Spielberg’s wife Kate Capshaw pushing him in an office chair being used as a kind of ersatz dolly.

Again, you can tell.

As a director Spielberg is known for his deft camerawork, the way he can use a single shot to tell a story. The story being told in the “Cannibal” video is: Here is Marcus Mumford up close. Here he is far away. OH MY GOD WE’RE GOIN FAST THERE’S HIS CAMERA HE’S REALLY SINGIN’ NOW!!! DO YOU WANT TO SEE HIS FACE REALLY CLOSE AGAIN?

Not Spielberg’s best work, but better than Amistad. 2 out of 5 office chairs.