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November 20, 2013 by   

What I love about this Radiolab piece is that they’ve figured out how to do what is essentially a Story Without Words, about words. The shots are matched so well that as viewers we’re drawn into trying to connect the dots, to answer the driving unanswered question: what word does each image imply? It feels like a puzzle, which both demands our attention and asks us to think about language more deliberately.

That said, the concept is so simple–“let’s film homonyms”–that I think it could come off as trite in less skilled hands. Radiolab is Radiolab, though, and they juxtapose scenes that are in turn familiar (fan blowing), affective (couple breaking up), and epic (starscape) with a rhythm and timing that feels almost comedic. Which shot goes where, and for how long, matters greatly.

Radiolab / NPR | “Words” from Keith Kenniff | Helios, Goldmund on Vimeo.


  1. says:

    I am so glad you posted this because it required me to watch it a second time. After Wes posted the “Moments” video, I ended up watching this one as well, but I kept feeling like I was just watching the “Moments” piece all over again. Of course I wasn’t though! Only on second viewing did I pick up the association between the different shots being connected by the same word. Duh! It really drives home the need to watch things a second time to get below the surface to figure out how and why the filmmakers did what they did.

  2. says:

    Radiolab’s content is constantly impressing me. Like Jarratt, I also had to watch this video a few times in order to study it to my heart’s content. The various connections to different worlds through a unifying word was such a simple but brilliant play on words!

  3. says:

    Very clever, and I love how attention they paid to the importance of sound. You can hear them distinctly throughout the piece, though there is still a musical tune driving the momentum forward, without taking a way from the musical sounds of every day life.

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