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.