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Martin de Thurah Grows Up

Danish Director Martin de Thurah Gives an Insight Into His Dark Films on Youth.

At 34 years of age Martin de Thurah has finally silenced the residual voices from his childhood and is ready to move on.  Or at least he wants to think he is. The painter turned animator turned live action director has just put the finishing touches to his latest project, a dark and unsettling promo for Fever Ray’s "When I Grow Up".

The unintentional irony of the track’s title is not lost on de Thurah, who’s carved a career and a reputation out of partially reconstructed memories of childhood and adolescence. His dreamlike visions have appeared in videos for acts ranging from Carpark North to Editors and, in 2007, were given free rein in a pair of short films, Young Man Falling and We Who Stayed Behind which wowed critics in Cannes and Venice. Yet, says de Thurah, who’s just announced he’s working on a new film, the time has come to put away childhood themes.

“I’ve been working with ideas around youth and identity for about three years now,” says the softly-spoken de Thurah from Copenhagen. “I find the turmoil and mess you’re in when you start growing up endlessly interesting. It’s a crazy battle being young which makes for some juicy material as a director – happy tears, loving laughter, red cheeks, suicide, girls breasts starting to grow, not really understanding… There’s so much to process it can be overwhelming.”

With the Fever Ray video de Thurah says he feels like he’s rounded a new corner and has reached a place where it’s time to tread a different path. “It feels like my brain consumed all these impressions from that part of my life and they’re somehow blocking my sight, like shelves loaded high with all this precious material. I work in quite an intuitive way so it’s important for me to maintain the thrill of expressing new kinds of feeling. I need to walk somewhere else for a while.”

Precisely where de Thurah’s latest ramblings will take him remains to be seen. For now at least he’s remaining tight-lipped about the landscape of his new artistic vision save to say he’s leaning towards directing a thriller.  The choice makes sense, after all his most arresting series of images to date involved houses uprooting themselves and floating ghost-like across bleak landscapes against blackened skies for Röyksopp’s 2005 track "What Else Is There". And more recently he evaporated Glasvegas amid a storm of dust and detritus on their Flowers and Football Tops promo.

If de Thurah’s looking to move on though it’s certainly not because he thinks he’s reached any sort of full stop when it comes to growing up. “I don’t think I’ve reached what you could call conclusions, and why should I?” he asks. “In my work I’ve looked inside several existential states of mind but you never stop learning about the world and trying to become a part of it, part of the universal understanding.”