Alex Turner assumes the role of legendary director Stanley Kubrick as he stages a moon residency for Arctic Monkeys’ recently released video for “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.” The title track from the band’s 2018 album connects callers to a hotel on the moon, and Turner and company take it upon themselves to provide the visual for the cosmic community in the video. Turner stares blankly into the camera as he mouths the lyrics “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino / Mark speaking / Please tell me how may I direct your call?” and checks viewers in for an exciting stay at the curious hotel.
A lit-up green exterior serves as the first shot of the video, the silhouette of the band’s mysterious frontman standing front and center. Turner makes his grand entrance in a white flared suit as he rides a neon pink elevator up to the hotel’s penthouse. The otherworldly hotel is host to a number of earthly pleasures: sultry bubble baths, glittering slot machines, and luxurious lounges. Reflections of the retro space motel graphic haunt Turner’s wandering figure throughout the video, creating an unsettling mysticism around the location.
The band cited Kubrick as the inspiration for The Shining-like zoomed angles in the “Four Out of Five” video, and the British blokes continue on a similar trajectory in the latest installment of their astronomic anthology. The very concept of the video—Turner roaming around vacant corridors and watching surveillance from various locations—plays on the same creeping cabin-fever feeling Kubrick invokes in the iconic horror film. A still of a suit-clad figure in an orange tile terminal aptly recalls the astronaut-in-terminal shot from Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was recently restored to its original 70-millimeter print in theaters.
Fans who have familiarized themselves with the album’s imaginative lyricism will recognize subtle allusions to prevalent themes: A box office advertises showings for “The Martini Police,” a standout line from “Star Treatment,” and Turner answers a bat-shaped telephone while driving down the road in a pointed callback to “Batphone.”
The concept of hotel surveillance plays a large role in the video—it allows Turner to watch his fellow band members provide the spacey instrumental—but the concept also serves as a sneaky allusion to the line “Floating down the endless stream of great TV / 1984, 2019” from “Star Treatment.” Perhaps this is the Arctic Monkeys’ attempt at posing the same questions about technology and freedom as the increasingly relevant classic George Orwell novel 1984. Viewers watch from a hotel surveillance screen as Turner takes photos of wild horses in an expansive barren field, a reminder that Turner never really checks out from the Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.
Featured Image by Domino Recording Company