Masterpiece YouTube: “Im Telech,” The Idan Raichel Project

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 4: “Im Telech,” The Idan Raichel Project, 2002.

This video and song have been around for a long time, but it was one of the first music videos I remember watching and having appreciation for. Not only is the song awesome, but the story of the video works as well.  The Idan Raichel Project is a magical supergroup of Israeli-Ethiopian cultural fusion music that makes use of instruments both traditional and non-traditional, and the results range from sweet and gentle to stark and haunting. In 2006, I got to see them perform live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, which was kind of cool. I went with my entire Hebrew class, including the professor, so it was a little awkward, but I enjoyed it and I rarely enjoy concerts of this nature. This group just stands out – regardless of the fact that they’re Israeli (which is awesome), they know how to perform and do it well.

We open on a cave painting of a line of people, with one person clearly missing. A woman who is next to that empty space goes searching for a person to fill it. She crosses through wide mesas, herds of cattle, and open desert, constantly searching. Upon encountering some musicians (also cave paintings), she remembers a man, and keeps walking. The sun is beating down on her, and as the shadowy eagles close in above her, the screen fades to black. She appears to us as if falling down a hole, then on her feet battling a stiff wind against some fluttering leaves, Just when she kneels down out of pain, suffering, and disappointment, the man she’s been imagining materializes before her to lift her up. They embrace, and their bodies become one single white butterfly, flying off into the blackness. The scene then goes back to the original cave painting tableau, where the woman is without him. A single tear floats down her face, remembering the happy time she once had, before zooming out to show us the full painting, with the human chain still broken.

This video contains many messages, and I don’t know if the ending is supposed to be sad, because she is still alone, or happy, because she at least had one moment, one opportunity of love, a memory that she can carry with her forever. It’s drawn compellingly and simply, and shows a journey that is both wonderful and heartbreaking. To me, it means that if you love someone, you shouldn’t let them go, and that there is someone out there for everyone. I can’t tell if she has a smile or a frown in the last frame, but in the end, her hand is empty, forever waiting for him to come and fill that gap.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by loneliness, procrastination, and dirty gym clothes.

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