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MINING THE FILM AND VIDEO ARCHIVE
Steeling himself, girding his loins, and steeling his girders for what might befall him, Mark Lewisohn pushes open the creaky door of I he video vault to unearth more previous booty from the distant and recent past
Hands up those readers who knew that there was a video for 'Mamunia'.
I said, hands up those readers who knew that there was a video for 'Mamunia'.
Now, come on. Hands up those readers.... What? Oh, I see, none of you knew. Well, actually, that makes 20,001 of us because I certainly didn't know either, at least not until recently, when I looked along the shelves of the McCartney archive and found one.
Here we were, you and I, blissfully united in our complete ignorance of the fact that 'Mamunia', this happy-go-lucky tune from Band On The Run, was accorded A Film Treatment.
Could this be, we ask ourselves rhetorically, because, as far as can be ascertained, the finished production never made it onto the screen - the big screen, the small screen, the any screen?
Yes, this is probably why. So why was the video made? we also ask ourselves. Search me, pal. I doubt if Paul even remembers. But there it is, not only on the shelf but in the corresponding index file. Made in July 1974, the file informs; produced by Jim Quick, the file informs; directed by Jim Quick, the file informs.
Unfortunately, what the file doesn't inform is just who Jim Quick was/is, and where he might be now. His recollections of producing and directing this obscure video for Paul McCartney 20 years ago might have graced this very article, were his present-day whereabouts known to us, which they aren't. So if you should meet Mr Quick, could you please ask how it was for him?
So, anyway, 'Mamunia'. Well, perhaps the first thing one ought to say about the video itself is that Paul himself does not appear in it. We can hear him singing, of course, but Paul is not visible on camera. Principally, one swiftly realises, this is because - for the most part - the video is animated. But it cannot be the only reason because, in the final frames, we see a man, a real man, walk into vision. He's the personification, if you like, of the animated character who has been entertaining us for the previous few minutes, togged up in a yellow mac, galoshes and hat, and ambling - with a rolled-up newspaper tucked under his arm — out towards the middle of a field. The camera zooms in, expectantly ... to reveal not Mr McCartney but, instead, a chap with a silly grin and no front teeth. He might even be Jim Quick, if only we knew what Jim Quick looked like. (Refer previous paragraph.)
The animation is fun, being reminiscent (overseas readers will have to bear with us while we British indulge in a spot of TV nostalgia here) of Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and Captain Pugwash. That is, instead of animating a series of drawings, Jim Quick has made the two main characters — a perm-haired youth in granny glasses, star-shirt and loon pants, and a watering can with a face — into cardboard cut-outs that he has painstakingly moved from position to position before filming frame by frame. Begging your pardon for the coming pun, but it can't have been a quick process. But then, that's the animating business for you.
The words-to-picture scenario was carried out quite literally, so a photo of Los Angeles appears when the lyric mentions "LA rainclouds", a seed is watered and bursts into a large yellow sunflower for the line "A seed is waiting in the earth for rain to come and give it birth" and, when the song reaches the line "Strip off your plastic mac", the animator's hand comes suddenly into vision to pull off the animated character's yellow rainwear. (Inessential trivia note: the word "mac" also appeared in two Lennon-McCartney songs: 'Penny Lane' and 'The Ballad Of John And Yoko'. Could this third occurrence construe another of the tortuous Paul Is Dead clues? Read all about it - "Mac Sings About A Mac For Third Time - A Pagan Sign Of Death In Iwo Jima"...)
There's not a lot else one can say about it, really, this 'Mamunia' video. Entertaining? Yes. A mystery? Yes. Providing a new definition for the word "obscure"? Undoubtedly. Not only may we never see its like again, we may never see it again, and the stills reproduced on this page, taken directly from the video, may be our only keepsake. Cherish them accordingly.