A Sorta Fairytale

Monday 6 June 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

From the album: Scarlet’s Walk (2002)
Directed by: Sanji
Epic Records

"A Sorta Fairytale" is the first single from Tori Amos’ seventh studio album, Scarlet’s Walk. It’s also her first release under the label of Epic Records after her split with Atlantic Records in 2001. Polly Anthony, who was then at the head of Epic was a major reason for Tori to sign with the label and the album got a lot of attention with this first video around the concept of fairytale including a lot of visual effects and actor Adrien Brody as a guest star. "Adrien Brody had just done The Pianist. And I think there was a strange sort of coincidence that he had just been playing a pianist and I’m a jobbing pianist, and that was the ground where we connected. This is where we were able to talk. We talked about music," said Tori of her acting partner in the audio commentary of the video on Fade to Red.

Director Sanji, renowned for his videos for Lauryn Hill or Mary J. Blige convinced Tori with an original treatment of the word ’fairytale’. "I think, um... the word ’fairytale’ is something that people were playing off of when they were sending in treatments. And there were some fascinating treatments. I mean, all kinds of stuff, with puppets in this one and that one, and inspired by the Thunderbirds, that old kind of puppet animation from England in the 60’s. We pretty much had everything you could possibly come up with around a fairytale. But I felt that Sanji was... taking the word ’ fairytale’ and saying, ’We have such an idea of what that should be and most of us are very disappointed, ’cause our lives aren’t like the books.’"

This is then an unconventional fairytale love story we see in the video. Tori is no princess but a leg-lady (literally she’s a head over a leg with a shoe) who meets one day a man who’s no charming prince neither but an arm-man (a head over an arm). "Sanji had really thought this out," said Tori in the making-of. "He knew it was called Scarlet’s Walk and he felt like... somehow the video needed to be an extension. And for him, because of the word ’walk’, that anchored him immediatly to the leg."

These outcasts meet, fall in love at first sight but the woman gets scared of her feelings, runs away and finally her lover finds her on the beach as she’s fallen on the sand and can’t stand up. He rescues her, they kiss and magically become whole again, literally. "I think that instead of a happily-ever-after, Sanji was saying, ’Don’t you think when you become whole again, sometimes it is about being with another person, but being whole really has to be about finding a part of your soul?’" said Tori in the audio commentary of the video on Fade to Red.

The fact that the heroes of the video are unconventional characters had its importance in the global vision we get. "Sanji had the idea that sometimes you are just in love with the good things," Tori said in an interview in February 2003 for the publication New University. "Why does everybody have to be Cinderella anyway? They can fall in love, but be hiding things from each other. The fact is that fairytales come from the concepts that we read, the whole knight in shining armor bit. A lot of us cannot see ourselves being in the fairytale, us the way we are, not with a different nose, different ears and a different boyfriend. At a certain point, you think, ’wait a minute. I have a fairytale.’ It’s not like the book, but what does that book know anyway? I think we break out of the fantasy of who the leading lady is, and who the leading man is."

The video was quite successful and was aired on VH1 where it stayed a few weeks on the Top 20, ranking at #13 at its highest.

Let’s take a look at the video and its intricate making...