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Cydonia Countdown

June 20, 2008

A while back, I included Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia” video in a post about neo-retro-Westernism (I’m thinking of trademarking the term, or copyrighting it, or something… I’m sure The Spouse will be happy to explain the difference to me yet again). I asked you then to watch the video and pick out all of the allusions you could to other media and/or narratives and/or narrative/visual tropes.

Faithful commenter Liam rose to the challenge and did a great job. I was especially impressed with his catch of the blue-tinged holograms a la Star Wars.


But wait! There’s more! I also noted the following:

  • The early training sequence is strongly reminiscent of Paul Atreides’ sparring session with the fighter drone from David Lynch’s Dune.


  • The “Flaming Energy Ball” pose is straight out of the manga/anime series Dragon Ball Z, in which it is a combat staple.
  • The raptor makes me think of Ladyhawke, even though it doesn’t do quite the same thing. In fact, the hawk-like bird doesn’t fit at all, as it’s forced to serve two narrative tropes at more or less the same time: it’s both the alter-ego for our hero and a (vulture-like) symbol of the death awaiting him.

Which brings me to a great, though non-allusive sequence:

  • The hawk raises its wings as if in flight (though it is clearly standing on a perch.
  • Our hero bounces up and down as if riding his horse (though he is clearly standing on the ground).
  • “A Gustof von Musterhausen Production” we’re told in intertitle.
  • Our heroine appears in a choker-shot (extreme close-up), mouthing “Oooh” — is she impressed with the “moving” hero/heroes, or with Gustof? Who can tell? It’s fabulous.

Back to the allusions.

  • Liam flagged the “come hither” wave, which is a “taunt” used endlessly in anime and martial arts films. The deployment of said taunt almost always drives the enemy/ies into a mindless rage (hence the name), provoking them into charging recklessly toward the hero/heroes and thus their doom
  • I could swear I’ve seen the car with jet rockets on its rear fenders (at 3:08 in the video) before. I thought it came from Cherry 2000 or Circuitry Man, but now I’m not sure. Any ideas?
  • I truly love the shot of the camera crew visible in the mirror at 3:14.
  • And I also love the irony of our hero mouthing, “No one’s gonna take me alive!” at 3:51… while he’s firmly and securely captured and restrained in the town stocks, soon to be pelted with manure.
  • The woman in the shiny armored bikini on the unicorn is straight out of Heavy Metal.
  • The sloppy licking-kiss the villain gives our heroine is Jabba’s “kiss” with Princess Leah in Return of the Jedi.
  • Our heroine’s gallows outfit is Wilma Deering’s from Buck Rodgers (go Erin Gray!).


  • The motorcycle-in-the-old-west trope is the central plot point of Time Rider.
  • Our hero’s costume change from slimming black to not-so-slimming white plaid is reminiscent of Gandalf’s reincarnation/return as Gandalf the White in Lord of the Rings.
  • And finally, the Zoro mask our hero wears upon his return… speaks for itself, and yet makes no sense whatsoever.

Whew! I’m exhausted. What did I miss?

Categories: Media, Narrative, Visuality
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