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Hunger : A Mysterious Statue

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

Oh, you and all your vibrant youth How could anything bad ever happen to you? You make a fool of death with your beauty, and for a moment I forget to worry.

Hunger, Florence and the Machine


I’ve become mildly obsessed with this song recently. I recommend watching the music video too. (Florence dancing kind of wildly, dramatic black and white scenes, a statue that sprouts greenery, lots of interesting imagery etc.)


In Florence’s own words, this song “is about the ways we look for love in things that are perhaps not love, and how attempts to feel less alone can sometimes isolate us more.” In the lyrics, she refers to her teenage struggle with an eating disorder and opens up about the emptiness of fame and hedonism.


In amongst all this, she addresses someone, perhaps her younger self or a lover: “You make a fool of death with your beauty”. It seems that beauty brings a temporary relief and freedom from her hunger and yet she admits that she has found no real "answer" to this feeling of emptiness.


The religious imagery in the video suggests a kind of longing for spiritual fulfilment. We follow the story of a statue with stigmata-like wounds, which is uncovered in museum storage and then placed in an exhibition (and maybe other locations too) to be admired by the public. We watch people at different times in history transfixed by this statue. (There's even a Thomasine moment as a man touches it wounds.)


The music video is packed full of interesting images and symbolism that raise a lot of questions (many essays could be written on the subject I’m sure…) Is the statue a representation of Jesus, who alone has the power to satisfy our human hunger? Or is this wounded statue, which eventually blossoms, a symbol of the redemptive power of art? Beauty comes out of brokenness and art takes on the marks of divinity. Perhaps this song and video is suggesting that the joy and connection that we find in art, beauty, and music is the closest that we can get to satisfying our hunger and transcending life’s pain.


Interestingly, the last shot of the music video is reminiscent of an Ozymandias* type scene. The statue is alone in the desert, half buried by sand – it seems to have been forgotten. And yet it is also beautiful in its overgrown, flowery state, still flourishing even in the dessert. Is this a picture of beauty overcoming the power of death, decay and human emptiness?


The lyrics however seem to tell a different story. Beauty's power "to make a fool of death" is only temporary; only "for a moment" does she forget to worry. We are then left questioning what happens when those moments of carefree, youthful vibrancy start to fade.


With all the religious imagery within the video and the lyrics, it’s hard not to be reminded of Jesus, the one who makes “a fool of death” through his own resurrection. Is this "the answer" that we are so desperately seeking?


I would love to ask Florence about her thoughts! Her lyrics often have a spiritual element, and yet I can’t help wondering, whether from her point of view, spirituality is just another kind of art rather than a firm foundation for faith, truth, and life…

 

*Ozymandias is a sonnet about a traveller who comes across a large fragment of an Egyptian statue in the dessert, a statue that once represented an Egyptian King. It’s a poem that speaks of the inevitably of decay; even rulers and empires that were once great eventually crumble and are forgotten.

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Mike Henry
Mike Henry
Feb 07, 2021

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