Eat your heart out, Usher!
Last year, his video for Rémy Martin spanned several decades in the recent history of Paris and New York. That's just an insignificant tick of the clock compared to the trip Solange Knowles takes in a sprawling new film for Rémy's Louis XIII Cognac.
Embodying the spirit of "Mother Earth," the Grammy winner embarks on a 13-billion-year quest, "Believe in Time," which also explores Louis XIII's connection to music, with Knowles providing the jazzy, ethereal soundtrack.
Launched Wednesday by Fred & Farid L.A., "Believe in Time" plays like the 2001: A Space Odyssey of brandy ads, or a Lurpak commercial on intergalactic overdrive with some vibrant History Channel vibes tossed in. Over the course of two and a half minutes, such wonders as the formation of the Himalayas, the birth of mankind, our mastery of fire, and the glory of powered flight unfold on screen.
Clad in flowing, celestial couture created by Guo Pei, and buttressed by intricate cosmic visuals from acclaimed director Mati Diop, Solange serves as our guide, kicking things off at the Big Bang—where else?
So, 13 billion years crammed into less than three minutes. One big-ass Bang for your buck!
"Time and space are really at the foundation of my expressions," says Knowles in a statement. "I'm a strong believer that the space and time surrounding our work is just as important as the work itself. The question of time is always in my container of consciousness while creating. In most of my own work, whether music, film or sculpture, I try to give thought on how future generations will discover it."
That philosophy aligned with Louis XIII and Rémy's creative approach, she adds, which tweaks temporal themes to illustrate a dedication to care, craftsmanship and quality.
Below, the team at Fred & Farid L.A., speaking collectively, explain how the impressive, immersive and unabashedly indulgent journey took shape:
Muse: You went really big here. Had you planned on doing something more contained—like your work with Usher—but the idea just grew and grew?
Fred & Farid: This was the concept from the beginning. With "Mother Earth" as the central character, we wanted to give context to the story with the creation of the universe and the birth of our planet. This perspective elevates the message and brings a spiritual flavor to it. The whole company believes in the power of time to achieve great things.
Why cast Solange—Queen Bey's younger sister—as your star?
We all loved Solange's work—the art, the sophistication, the minimalism, the cerebral approach, the sense of symbolism, the power of her imagery, the elevation, the pace. There is a depth about her. It had to be her. [For the soundtrack] we of course gave her total freedom to compose.
What made Mati Diop the best choice to direct?
Solange chose the director. She wanted to work with Mati, among other very talented directors she had selected. Mati is a Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix winner with her feature Atlantics. We were absolutely thrilled to work with her.
What bits of the film stand out in your mind? The levitation sequence was certainly dope.
The challenge of the levitation scene was to shoot it gracefully, so it didn't look like a challenge. The scene feels hypnotic, mysterious—like in a dream. Also, the way Solange walks, followed by Mati's camera in the big corridor, is exceptional and deeply touching. We can feel the magnetism of Solange, but also her power and her strength.
Were 2001 or Lurpak inspirations? Or modern sci-fi films, perhaps?
There are many influences in the storytelling. [These include] the millenary icon of Mother Earth, Solange's presence and voice, the Sacred Femininity ... retro-futurism with a Chinese aura, the space and the infinite, the loop, the circularity of time.
Still, you're selling cognac. Isn't this a tad over the top—maybe way over?
Brands today must stand for something. Meaning is everything. Time has always been the raw material of Louis XIII. Whats wrong with celebrating this?
Client: LOUIS XIII COGNAC
Brand: Leonardo Ferracina, LOUIS XIII Executive Director
Brand: Alix de Boisset, LOUIS XIII Communication Director
Brand: Ingrid Gnanadicom, LOUIS XIII Head of Digital Communications
Brand: Andréa Foraison, LOUIS XIII Global Communication Manager
Agency: FRED & FARID Los Angeles
Chief Creative Officers: Fred & Farid
Creative Director: Nicolas Berthier
Agency Art Director: Radouane Guissi, Bridget Callahan
Agency Junior Copywriter: Ciana Alessi
Executive Producer: Amanda Van Caneghem
Business Director: Peter Jacobs
Legal: Veronique Hassid, Regan McCrohon-Hoff
Production Co: DIVISION
Director: Mati Diop
Executive Producers: Laure Salgon & Jules de Chateleux
Production Service Co: TwentyfourSeven
Executive Producer: Oriol Rodriguez
Producer: Aurelie Bruneau
Production Coordinator: Marie Mezeray
DOP: Olivier Gossot
Makeup Lead: Miguel Ramos
Hair Lead: Evanie Frausto
Styling Lead: Kyle Luu
Stylist: Ana Murillas
Production Designer: Marie Lanna
Choreographer/Movement Director: Maya Alexis
Photographer: Renell Medranao
BTS Video & Stills: Manuel Obadia-Wills
Head of Post production: Clémence Cuvelie
Lead Editors: Adriana Legay, Stephane Peirrera
Supporting Editors: Roxane Faure Huet, Zoé Sassier, Elodie Fouqueau, Lola Bongiovanni
Supporting Writer: Katie Dailey
Colorist: Arthur Paux
Fluids Filmmaker: Chris Parks
Sound House: Kouz
Sound Producer: Grégoire Couzinier
Sound Studio Manager: Brunot Porret
Music Supervisor: Marine Sellem
Office Manager: Nathalie Catanzano
VFX & Online: The Mill Paris
Executive Producer: Fabrice Damolini
VFX Supervisor: Jeremy Wulff
VFX Producer: Benjamin Cathala
Editors Montage: Adriana Legay, Stéphane Perreira
Assistant Montage: Antoine Zimer, Chloe Charrier, Julie Rigaud
Color Grading: Arthur Paux
Assistant Color: Loic Lavaux
Concept Art: Nathan Lucas
Matte Painting: Francois Belliart, Lea Gonzales
Motion Design: Jeremy Wulff, Manon Baillet, Max Loriot
Lightning, Compositing: Marouan El Bekri, Randy Gudin, Jérôme Auliac
Asset Maker: Alex Corcoy
Flame: Sébastien Kremer
Music Composer & Score: Solange
Production Co: Beijing Eye
Executive Producer: Sasha Alderson
DOP Zhihan Zhang // Hans Zhang
Photographer: CheYan Kim