At last, PJ Harvey has returned to save us.
Directed by photojournalist Seamus Murphy, Polly Jean’s “The Orange Monkey” is back from a tour in Afghanistan, and it’s a poetic meditation to behold.
Murphy: With the films I make for Polly Harvey’s music I try to reflect the song’s tune and mood, which means tapping into emotion. I find emotion a truer compass than intellect when it comes to finding images and creating sequences for music. The Orange Monkey has warm, earthen colours with a pleasant, unrushed feel to it. There’s an underlying melancholy, which is leavened by the strength and energy of the Afghan people. We know there is tragedy but what we see is resilience.
All the material for the film was shot in Afghanistan over two trips I made in 2012 and one in 2014. In December 2012 Polly joined me and we travelled together in Afghanistan. Places featured are Kabul, Parwan, Nangarhar and Helmand Provinces.
The country is different each time; different politics, different conditions, different dangers and then there’s the physical differences brought about by the change in seasons. Songs gets drawn from many experiences and events in a writer’s life and some elements could equally fit other songs about other things. Films work in similar ways. Would the shot of the baker drinking his Chai Sabz (green tea) be any different had it been taken on an earlier or later trip? This film comes from work made over several recent trips but also from a reservoir of memories dating back to my first visit to Afghanistan in 1994.
PJ Harvey’s The Hope Six Demolition Project is out now.