A pair of eyes.
That’s all it takes to jolt Anima awake. The eyes belong to Dajana Roncione, a dancer, actress, and partner to Thom Yorke. Yorke is the lead actor in Anima, as well as its inspiration, the video named after his third solo album and set to two of his songs. It’s directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. All three – Yorke, Anderson, and Anima – are quietly shocked into action by the mere site of Roncione’s wide-open eyes on a train full of waking zombies. A quick rack-focus traces the invisible thread tethering her to Yorke, and suddenly, everything comes to life. Anderson and DP Darius Khondji’s camera shifts from static shots to a more kinetic style. The sleepy riders jump into choreographed movement, physically alive but still numb to the exquisite feeling around them. Yorke himself seems pulled from a reverie, unwilling to believe but unable to forget those eyes.
Tracking Yorke’s elliptical journey to return a briefcase and find the owner of those eyes, Anima bears certain hallmarks of Anderson’s style, and more than a few of his preoccupations. It’s a short but potent summary of the ways he thinks about love – this flitting, mercurial force that shows its face briefly and then hides. Cheeky, torturous, ephemeral. Hopeful but elusive. All-encompassing but undefinable. Everywhere and nowhere. Anima and animus – or as Carl Jung described it, masculine and feminine.
The briefest glimpse can drive us down a spiraling path full of inexplicable obstacles and impossibly angled forces, and now the eyes belong to Shasta Fay Hepworth.
The smallest hope can push us through the monotony of our off-kilter existence, or perhaps through the rage-induced tunnel of haze, and suddenly the eyes are those of Lena Leonard.
Desire cannot be expressed in mere words, only through movement, the twirling across on alleyway, or maybe the tender care shown to us when we are sick, dying, at our worst, and magically the eyes have become those of Alma Elson.
But eventually, always, we return. The same bus or train or car. The same passengers. But something is different. We are different. We are anima and animus combined.