When Heath Ledger died last year, no one disputed his claims as a great actor. Since his passing though, he’s established a reputation as a top-notch music video director as well. His anti-whaling video for Modest Mouse's "King Rat" debuted in August and now he’s back from the grave again with a hip-hop clip for N’fa’s “Cause an Effect.”
While “Cause an Effect” lacks the overt social cause of the Modest Mouse tune, Ledger clearly goes for the activist tunes. “I represent those struggling to pay tax, struggling to eat,” N’fa raps. “Amidst fat aristocrats we can’t make ends meet / I represent the lonely working, searching for more / Suffering at the bottom. I’m here to settle the score.”
The angry outsider rant gets an appropriately aggressive video, with N’fa layered in layers of face paint that can’t help but recall Ledger’s own Joker, with just a hint of S&M on the side. Formerly of Australian hip-hop trio 1200 Techniques, N’fa (short for No Fixed Abode) discussed working with Ledger in a making-of clip he posted on his MySpace page.
"Every day I count my blessings that I got to have him direct this piece of art," N’fa says. "For a song I was very proud to have written but I never expected to have such an immense video made for it. Since I'd known Heath since we were very young, he’s always been a creative kind of guy and, in many ways, ahead of the curve. When he had the idea to do this video, [there was] no question."
The video was shot in the summer of 2006 to promote N’fa’s Cause an Effect LP so the duo made ample use of the Sydney waterfront. Even palling around with his friend down under though, Ledger couldn’t escape the dark underbelly of fame.
“We spent a lot of time…going down the beach, having fun and often getting snapped by paparazzi” N’fa says. “It wasn’t really one of the things he was into.”
Ledger was into the challenge of coming up with a creative way to memorialize N’fa’s call to action on the cheap though.
"We tried to do something on the shoestring budget we had" the rapper said. "The day before we found a few different ideas for clothing, a massive sheet and black curtain, and got in touch with two really good makeup artists… and shot it all in his garage.”
The clip just debuted at the Rome Film Festival this past weekend, but it was worth the wait. The sad fact is that it’s perfectly feasible this may be the second-to-last new Heath Ledger work we see (his final film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus comes out in December). So enjoy it.
Verdict: 4/5 stars