DAVID reviews

11 July 2014

Such stuff as dreams are made on

IKEA: “Beds” - 90s

Juan Cabral isn't the most prolific director in the world, but boy, it's worth waiting for his work and this 90-second ad for IKEA raises the bar in the search for this year's best commercial. Much of the retailer's advertising is visually adventurous but this raises their game stratospherically.

In the wrong hands it could have been a piece of overblown pomp... instead, it captures the strangely vivid yet fleeting nature of dreams with uncanny, magical precision.

Eschewing their usual überhip ads full of colour and choreography, this takes us outside and up; up into and through the clouds, revealing to us a space high above the world, silent except for the winds whipping past and shaping the weather below us.

Here is a bed: the only thing the sky is sharing its emptiness with. And in it awakes a young woman, who clambers over to sit on the edge... and then, inexplicably, launches herself off. As she falls, actress Prunella Scales begins to speak, and we recognise the familiarity of the words even as we try to recall where they're from.

Of course, it comes to us: this is Prospero's famous speech, reminding us of the illusory nature of consciousness. The Tempest is about a play within a play... which is in turn within the play that we call life; and as Scales continues, we note the quavering quality of her voice; its age; its softness, broadcasting its aeons of experience and wisdom between the lines it is speaking.

Meanwhile, the young woman falls, from bed to bed to bed. The direction is stunning. The dizzying angles and impossible weightlessness; the sense of plummeting like a stone but without consequence, the flailing of limbs - not just of her own, but of a dog, suddenly; and then the stillness of a sleeping child tucked up in his own bed, dreaming his own dreams of falling, maybe.

We all know that sudden stomach-flip as we're drifting into sleep and are jolted back by the impression we have begun to fall. This ad taps into the shared recognition of the sensation, but goes beyond it. Our young woman's descent suggests she is both falling down into deeper and deeper stages of sleep and simultaneously rising out of them as she gets closer to earth and the reality we believe we operate in.

We really only glimpse the beds in this, but it's more than enough. What this ad says more than any amount of frames and mattresses it could show is that you want a bed from a store that understands how mysterious and inexplicable sleep is. A store whose beds promise the opportunity for adventure every night when you close your eyes. It's not about the prosaic eight hours supposedly required if one is to function at work the next day; it's about a deliciously comfortable place where you can explore, uninterrupted, the universe that is your brain each time you get under the covers.

And after all, who wouldn't rather think of their bed as somewhere that delivers miracles and wonders rather than somewhere that simply hastens the squawk of the alarm clock?

Creative Agency: Mother Ⓦ
Film Production: MJZ Ⓟ Ⓦ
Director: Juan Cabral Ⓟ Ⓦ
Producer: Stephen Johnson / Rudi Rossouw (Stillking)
Production M'ger: Charlie Hey (Stillking)
Cinematography: Eric Gautier
Gaffer: Elliot Sewape
Grip: Roderick Dean-Smith
Stunt Supervisor: Gideon van Schoor
Production Design: Lisa Hart
Wardrobe: Nicole de Jager
Hair Design: Marc Crisp
Make-Up: Marc Crisp
Location Manager: Steve Watchorn (Unit Manager)
Editor: Neil Smith @ Work Ⓦ
Post Production: Jim Radford @ MPC Ⓦ
Colourist: Jean-Clément Soret
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell Ⓦ @ 750MPH Ⓟ Ⓦ
Voiceover: Prunella Scales
Thanks To: William Shakespeare

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