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The Gondry brothers on Las Vegas and falling in love in 8.2 seconds

We talk to the filmmakers about their series of super-shorts inspired by the science that says we can fall in love within ten seconds

We’re all feeling it – in a sprawling vortex of content it’s increasingly difficult to focus on one thing. Even when we watch Netflix we’re scrolling Instagram and in a bloated platform era, our attention spans are reducing; in fact studies say human beings can only concentrate for a meagre eight seconds, one second less than that of a goldfish. One thing that goldfish aren’t capable of is love (we think), and research also shows that it takes just 8.2 seconds to fall in love. While our focus might be diminishing, our primal instinct for passion isn’t going anywhere.

In response to these findings, Michel and Olivier Gondry have shot a series of incredibly short films (yes, 8 seconds long) called Las Vegas Love Stories, all shot in the Park MGM, Paradise, Nevada. The surreal shorts pay tribute to the magical feeling of falling in love, snapshots of different couples in different romantic situations.

In anticipation of the six films being released, we caught up with the Gondry brothers to ask them about love, the impact of technology on our brains, and what they’d do if they only had 8.2 seconds left on Earth. 

Do you think that in your life you've ever fallen in love within 8.2 seconds? If so, can you describe it?

Olivier Gondry: I definitely projected myself in a whole life of love in the first 8 seconds of seeing someone. Many times. Actually fallen in love? No. 

Michel Gondry: I fall in love every 8.2 seconds. It’s very complicated.

Do you think that Joel and Clementine fell in love within 8.2 seconds, on that train?

Michel Gondry: They are in love already, but they don’t know it because they erased each other from their minds.

“Melancholy comes after love is finished and it grows and grows. Melancholy shines light on the love we didn’t know was there” – Michel Gondry

While the films are about love - the most magical feeling we are capable of - there is a sadness to some of them, the music lends them an air of melancholy. Was this deliberate? Is love, in and of itself, sad?

Olivier Gondry: Melancholy and sadness definitely brings some depth to love. In eight seconds you fall in love, yes, then you get the next yeeaaarrrsssss of….love…. through the music. 

Michel Gondry: Melancholy comes after love is finished and it grows and grows. Melancholy shines light on the love we didn’t know was there.

I went back to watch the films on repeat, to check for any detail I had missed. Each time offered something a little different, but did you find it hard to tell a story in 8.2 seconds?

Olivier Gondry: Yes, it worried me a bit, until two days after starting the edit when I saw everything coming together, some better than imagined.  

Michel Gondry: It’s hard to define what a story is. Some pretend they know, but I think they are showing off. 

Do you notice, in our online era, your attention span shortening? How does it affect your work?

Olivier Gondry: The online era made “crazy” the quiet times and helped “quiet” the crazy times. It’s great for crazy work.

Michel Gondry: Yes. We don’t know if our short attention span made us create this technology or the technology created the short attention span. 

“We don’t know if our short attention span made us create this technology or the technology created the short attention span” – Michel Gondry

Do you think there’s a romance to hotels, and Las Vegas itself?

Olivier Gondry: I have great memories of Las Vegas. A few trips with American friends 20 years ago. Through my French eyes, I loved it. I keep these memories warm. I don’t want to analyse them. 

Michel Gondry: I used to go in Las Vegas with my son when he was six. He would go with two girls his age and spend time in the arcades to win tickets. 

If you had 8.2 seconds left on earth to tell someone you loved them, who would it be?

Olivier Gondry: If I had only eight seconds, I won’t have time to call anybody, so I would say “I love you” to the person I am talking to, because with eight seconds to live, I love every single human being. 

Michel Gondry: I’m not telling you.

Were any of the films based on true stories, and real accounts of falling in love?

Olivier Gondry: No true stories, but true emotions, yes. What they lived in the elevator in Room 802, is definitely something I lived. 

Michel Gondry: Olivier, stop thinking of Lili. You drive me crazy.