One day, I plan on writing a long, thoughtful analysis and critique of Nostromo_vx‘s body of work, and his place and influence in the editing world. As my (probably) all-time favorite editor, Nostromo’s impact on my editing style can’t be overstated, and I always find myself having a ton to say about his videos whenever I sit down and watch them.
At the same time, whenever I talk about Nostromo, I find myself in the awkward position of automatically being on the defensive; the people who care enough to listen to my ramblings tend to be the sort who will also point out that I’m typically adamantly critical of multi-anime/electronic music OP/ED eye candy videos, and they’re absolutely right.
To go any further in that direction would require its own post, but it serves as a needed introduction to why I’m writing about Hidden Palace at all, as that’s exactly the kind of video this is. We need to get that ugly truth out of the way right off the bat — even Nostromo says so in the video description: “Pretty pictures with nice music, no story, no bullshit.” It might go without saying, but if this video hadn’t been edited by Nostromo, I probably never would have watched it, and that would have been a grave mistake. See, when you really dig into Nostromo’s catalog, you start to notice things — as much as he might claim that his videos are meaningless and random (and he does — often), his subconscious works against him. I have yet to watch one of his videos that felt truly unfocused (except, well, maybe Distant Echo), and Hidden Palace is no exception.
It’s dark, seething, slow, and this automatically sets it apart from Nostromo’s usual upbeat, zoom-heavy style. It’s frigid and sinister, completely mesmerizing and utterly hypnotic. It’s not really similar to any other video that I can think of; despite being in the category of AMVs that I usually dismiss outright, it’s totally singular. I haven’t seen another video that’s taken quite this approach before.
The thing that stands out the most to me is Nostromo’s untouchable mastery of color. This is nothing new — if you’re familiar with Nostromo’s work, he’s been using color manipulation to his advantage since 2007’s Magic Pad — but this is the video where his technique has been perfected. It is Arctic-tundra cold. Blues and greys and blacks dominate the palette, creating a four-minute universe composed entirely of ice and steel and vacuum. Few videos I’ve seen have used color so effectively (and most of the ones that would come close are — no surprise — Nostromo’s).
It’s also worth noting that this is one of those videos that uses 60 fps appropriately — not just as a way to pretty up the video, but to push those extra frames to their limit in service of total consistency. As I said already, this video is slow. Nostromo uses Twixtor to stretch scenes way past their usual limit and slow things down to a glacial pace. The pulsing rhythm of the song moves things forward, but it’s easy to imagine these characters being stuck in a single second forever if it weren’t there.
If I had managed to see this video before I made my year-end list, it would have been sitting at #1 or #2, but at least now it gets its own well-deserved post. This is a video that, admittedly, doesn’t say a whole lot. It’s not going to win any awards for concept or story, and it’s not going to win over too many new people who aren’t already sold on Nostromo. As different as it is from his usual style, it’s still a video that is distinctly his, for better and (to those who don’t care for his videos) worse.
However, as a mood piece, I can’t think of very many videos that can hold a candle to Hidden Palace. Into The Labyrinth comes close. So does Asuka’s Wonderland. There are probably a few others as well, but all I can think of right now after having watched this video is how much I need a heavy blanket and a warm fireplace and people around me. I don’t want to feel cold and lonely, but if that’s the price to pay for four minutes of surreal bliss, I suppose I’ll cough up.