Sleep Forever - Michael Ragen may still be cutting his teeth as a director, his work behind the camera with That Go on Röyksopp videos Senior and The Drug and on short films Your Lucky Day by Dan Brown and Annie Goes Boating by Noel Paul have certainly earned him a reputation as an up and coming Director of Photography. However, it’s not just the cinematography catching the eye in his long-format two-track music video for American band Portugal The Man as Ragen combines his usual stunning visuals with a heady dose of atmosphere and intrigue to make a music promo that is destined to remain in your memory long after viewing.
Starring band frontman John Gourley, Sleep Forever is a tale of isolation and hopelessness as one man and his dogsled team battle against the bitter Alaskan wilderness and attempt to defeat an ever-increasing sense of desperation. Ragen makes the most of his striking setting by employing sprawling aerial shots and striking time-lapse photography to traverse the snow-covered landscapes of America’s largest state. The opening 2-minutes of Sleep Forever are filled with such majestic images of the scenery it feels almost as if you are watching a video made by the Alaskan tourist board. This feeling of serenity doesn’t linger long though and soon images of igloo walls dripping with blood, masked gunmen and ominous red moons give Ragen’s video a complete reversal in ambience.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as brief appearances of comedy and uplifting musical moments unite with the darker ingredients in Ragen’s vision to blend into something altogether innovative and refreshing. Sleep Forever may be a music video at heart, but its extended length and captivating content make for a short that would be happy rubbing shoulders with any narrative piece doing the rounds at the moment.