Watch: John Hillcoat's Amazingly Poetic Levi's TV Commercial
by Alex Billington
July 6, 2010
If you don't know who John Hillcoat is, let me remind you. Hillcoat is the Australian filmmaker who most recently directed The Road, the powerful post-apocalyptic thriller starring Viggo Mortensen that finally got released last year. It actually turned out to be a great film, incredibly bleak, but beautiful and emotional. He also directed a western called The Proposition. It's becoming quite common to see polished filmmakers like this occasionally taking TV commercial side jobs, and the result is usually amazing. Here's another example of fantastic filmmaking in a TV commercial for Levi's that's part of their "Go Forth" marketing campaign.
It's just so poetic and beautiful to watch and surprisingly engrossing for a 90-second ad. I'm not any more interested in buying jeans than I was before, but I thought this was a surprisingly well-made commercial that was well worth featuring simply because it shows you what Hillcoat is truly capable of. I have to thank One Cool Thing a Day for first finding this and reporting that it was John Hillcoat who directed it. Hillcoat also directed that awesome Red Dead Redemption short film using in-game machinima, so it looks like he's been honing his abilities in smaller side projects recently. Hope you enjoyed watching that as much as I did.
Reader Feedback - 29 Comments
if you can get past the annoying, emotionless voice over, yeah, it's pretty cool.
Korm on Jul 6, 2010
what a terrible voice that emotionless bitch has
KP on Jul 6, 2010
Yeah, it was cool minus the most annoying "I wanna kill you now" voice over ever!!
Cmurder on Jul 6, 2010
V.O. awful. the rest awesome.
Xerxex on Jul 6, 2010
MMM, didn't like the voice. Should have been a smoother voice. Like Chloe Moretz for example..
Ellelena on Jul 6, 2010
This was shot in Braddock, Pa. the same place The Road was filmed.
Klaus Komix on Jul 6, 2010
Looks (and sounds) like Mr. Hilcoat was influenced by the one-and-only master of visual poetry- Terry Malick.
eddie on Jul 6, 2010
Also looks like he's been watching George Washington on repeat.
Sunny on Jul 6, 2010
ha I love John Hillcoat and it is a wonderful little commercial definitely.... but I'm thinkin' he owes Terrence Mallick some money.
Alex Robino on Jul 6, 2010
By the way, I don't have the strength to explain it right now, but I just wanted to be the first to say I was absolutely fine with the voice. It made sense.
Alex Robino on Jul 6, 2010
'The New World' deja vue. Very beautiful visuals, though the fact that it so obviously copied the v.o. and soundtrack of 'The New World' totally ruined it for me. Hillcoat could have a least used a different piece of music.
Andrew on Jul 6, 2010
yep, a bit of a rip off of terrence malick! but it is a really good reference!
ellli on Jul 6, 2010
You sure Terrance Malick or David Gordon Green didn't direct that?
Conor on Jul 6, 2010
Wow...it scares me when the only news you can find for the day is a commercial and a story about MGM dropping Bond... ...I think Hollywood is in some trouble.
Peloquin on Jul 6, 2010
I liked the commercial a lot. I never cared for the other Go Forth commercials, they looked like it consisted of some hippies on a drug high prancing around while a serious message was being played as a voice over. Didn't like it at all. This commercial I get, because the message from the voice over directly related to the imagery... and it was a powerful message at that. It's not about visuals, it's not about the voice, what makes this a good commercial is the connection to some kind of soul. And when the imagery and the audio message work together so nicely it's even better. As for the "emotionless" voice over in this commercial, I think that was part of the art. The child didn't need to go bananas at the microphone to make the message powerful, it was the words themselves that were powerful. No raising of voice tone was needed to convey that. And the use of a child also shows innocence, an innocence that only knows truth, which also helped carry his message. It's like... the issue is so plainly obvious that even a child can see it, why can't the rest of this country? As I said, I really liked this commercial. More like it should be made and less of the other Go Forth commercials.
Chris H. on Jul 6, 2010
alex think about this!!! if you dont want to go buy some jeans after this than it was a bad commercial. slow motion tracking and little girl whispers just dont cut the mustard for me
a fig on Jul 6, 2010
I loved it. And I love the voice over. Maybe I am the only one.
Ambient on Jul 7, 2010
Hillcoat is a gifted director, no doubt about it.
Johnny Neat on Jul 7, 2010
#17 No. You're not. I thought the entire thing was brilliant.
Quanah on Jul 7, 2010
Love the VO and all the rest of it.
sumonesumtime on Jul 7, 2010
A lot of the best director's came from a commercials background, they could sell you any old shit and make you cry watching an ad for a loaf of bread. Still wouldn't make me buy the jeans, but it looked okay, is a bit schmaltzy, who they kidding, those towns are dead. dead, dead. Rebuilding a church isn't going to help anyone. If I was young and less cynical obviously I'd love this.
Crapola on Jul 7, 2010
Classy comments here today. Calling a child an "emotionless bitch". Get over yourself, KP. I liked the film quite a bit. If he got Levis to fund it, well then good on him.
Chris Rugen on Jul 7, 2010
It's skillful, of course, but this is about as derivative as it gets--basically a ripoff. Direct steals from GEORGE WASHINGTON, and the Wagner piece is from THE NEW WORLD by way of Das Rheingold. Hillcoat's more talented than this...I mean, I hope he is. He simply didn't imagine any of this--it's all borrowed. And the dipshit who called the voice-over artist an "emotionless bitch" is...a dipshit. A friendless dipshit, odds are.
Craig Dawson on Jul 7, 2010
Great stuff. Wonderful imagery and a beautiful appropriation of "The New World"s music. That's right, they didn't rip it off; they found a new home for it. Directors do this all the time, and in this case it works. Hillcoat isn't trying to original or imaginative, just effective. Who cares if it isn't all ripped straight from the Big Bang of Brand New Ideas that fanboys seem to believe exists somewhere out there in the cosmos? This is great idea for an evocative jeans ad using some pre-existing material. That really should be enough.
Concourse D on Jul 8, 2010
I really like it, like the structure, the interplay and the emotional diorama. Full of hope with a dash of phoenix like rebirth. Yeah right. Generic, flat, lifeless, pointless and dull. Oh and pretentious sack of balls.
lazlo on Jul 10, 2010
This is either a rip-off or ode to Terrence Malick's work in The New World, particularly the final sequence of the film ... one of the most beautiful scenes in recent memory, in my opinion. It uses the same music, same style voice-over, similar shots/camera work, and similar editing structure. See here for the scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhj4b5CzyhU Warning - it contains spoilers, I suppose (since it is the very final scene).
Michael on Jul 24, 2010
This is seriously THE WORST commercial that i think i have ever seen in my life. THE MOST ANNOYING. In fact, ALL of Levis commercials are annoying as balls. especially the brialliant one that goes "and we dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig." Holy shit, nobody cares. And WTF do any of these stupid freaking commercials have to do with a pair of overpriced jeans anyways? Truly God awful commercials. And the voice that is used in this pointless commercial is just horrible. In fact, just hearing it makes me mad. Look at this comment, why the heck am i so pi**ed at a freaking commercial that i have gone online to vent about it? my goodness, it is THAT bad. LEVI go suck a fat one your commercials suck. All the way back to that "I wear no pants, i weeeAAAAarr no pants" gem. Good Lord, who runs Levi's marketing campaign? Because they deserve to have their dogs shot and force fed to them. Geez.
Jason on Nov 23, 2010
so many misunderstood individuals on here. fuck you
sedna on Dec 3, 2010
Malick is not the only one able to film kids running around. There were alot of original scenes in here. The music is the same, but so what.
Vancetim on Feb 1, 2011
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