Soiling their skivvies is not an option for slackliners Antoine Moineville and Tancrède Melet as they perform mind-bogglingly dangerous stunts 2,500 meters above the ground in the French Alps for a video promoting Paul Smith underwear's autumn/winter collection. (For all you Americans, 2,500 meters works out in feet to, roughly … lemme see … carry the one, OK … super freaking high.) Clad in Paul Smith fashions throughout, Moineville and Melet wind up in nothing but boxers as they bounce around spiky, snow-capped cliffs, tightrope-walk above lofty gorges and do handstands on mountaintops.
The three-minute clip was created to "celebrate the vibrancy" of the brand, and it ranks as a finely crafted, compelling piece of content that in some ways transcends its marketing mission. Since this is, ultimately, a commercial posted online, there's really no tension in the central concept. We know the daredevils won't take any tragic headers into the valley below; everything will turn out just fine. And yet, the clip is so well done, it still manages to evoke an edge-of-your-seat aura. (I got so caught up in the action, I forgot they wouldn't die. And I mean that as a sincere compliment.)
Of course, the performers deserve most of the credit, but props also to producer/director Sébastien Montaz-Rosset for his crisp, documentary-style photography. This is achieved, in part, by using a very cool James Bond-ian drone camera copter, which we see hovering around Moineville and Melet in "Behind the Scenes" footage that's just as riveting as the main video.
It's worth contrasting Paul Smith's approach with another recent high-altitude brand-content "thriller" that I found far less effective. This summer, the first installment of Range Rover's "The Driven Challenges" series starred stunt racer Paul Dallenbach setting a speed record on Pikes Peak. Though well made, that effort fell flat by overloading on Hollywood-style editing, narration and music cues to build suspense. In the Paul Smith video, the cinematography is awesome but simple, allowing the action to unfold naturally with few distractions. The music by British duo Snakehips isn't ever intrusive. Sometimes we just hear the wind. And overt branding is kept to an absolute minimum.
Moreover, watching this clip makes me realize that I have never been truly alive … not for one single second of my sedentary, risk-averse earthbound existence.
I salute you, nearly naked Alpine acrobats! Writing the post in my tighty whities, sitting cross-legged on my comfy couch, I salute you!