Sail the Wildest Stretch – Powderfinger’s final discovery

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This narrative music video humorously exploits the iconography of colonisation and film making in creating a physical discovery of resilience and personal safety. ‘Sail the Wildest Stretch’ is from Powderfinger’s final album, Golden Rule, released in 2009 while the music video was released in 2010. The four minute long text was produced by 50/50 Films, with creatives Paul Butler and Scott Walton collaborating with the band to deliver ‘something a bit Mel Brooks’.

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Consider how these points could be incorporated into an analysis of the AOS: Discovery and relate to a specific text:

  • diegetic sounds of water accompanies an officer in close up scanning the horizon through an eyepiece before resting on a compelling keyhole shot of an empty, beached longboat
  • the title, as so often occurs with songs, is repeated to reinforce the central concern of embarking upon an adventure and taking risks
  • metaphorically refers to life choices which is supported by the opening line, and common language feature of rhetorical questions ‘If you had your time over again – would you do it all the same?’
  • song begins with a strumming guitar as the on-screen action begins

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  • effectively hails the viewer through use of second person ‘you’ and creates a conversational tone through the existing first person perspective
  • establishing shots reveal the longboat and introduce the cast with humorous titles in a relaxed font
  • Gunner Collins takes aim directly at the camera as the opening line is sung, but pulls the shot into the landscape – this reminds us of life choices and asks the viewer to consider of any regrets felt

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  • ‘Would you just leave me standing – in the doorway frozen through?’ signals a more intense chord change and an emotional focus
  • this links physical discomfort with a negative reception ‘Waiting on the coldest comfort from you’ emphasised with alliteration
  • instrument layering brings strength and integrity to

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  • the second verse offers a glimpse of opportunities with the lyric ‘And if your course could be reset’ following low angle and point of view shots from the waterline and shark indicating obstacles and lurking dangers
  • extended metaphor of colonial adventurers through nautical references ‘steer your ship’ accompanied by the keyhole of an exotic island woman – cliche joke of black rimmed eye adds humour in contrast to the contemplative tone of the lyrics
  • ‘Just to feel the force of the waves’ suggests the lure of discovery could be the possibility of exciting experiences
  • ‘Would you just leave me waving – on the dock as you pull away?’ denotes a shift in the action from ‘standing’ to ‘waving’ a gesture of acknowledgement
  • with the next line ‘Savouring the bitter taste?’ accompanied by the building music as a storm approaches while the crew drink rum shots
  • a sailor falls overboard, illustrating another danger of life at sea as the lyrics urge us to reflect on the ‘damage’ produced from ‘the illusion you made’ by suggesting that we ‘stop and take a breath’ – these ideas are repeated for a greater impact before
  • the long held duration of ‘Fade into silence’ with harmonised vocal support – surely a reminder that all of use will eventually die and petty concerns will dissipate
  • an aerial shot reveals the crew’s survival as land is spotted with an onscreen caption ‘Lunch!’ referencing a silent movie technique

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  • as the ship is beached to the final drum beats, the ubiquitous diegetic sounds of a seagull are heard after the crew toast the success of their epic journey – camera pans up towards a cloudy sky which fades into black
  • ultimately, the song urges us to consider what is important in life by reflecting on our own experiences on our path to self-discovery

Watch a short video where the band discuss The making of “Sail the Wildest Stretch”

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