Canadian Iranian Minimalist Pianist and Composer, Arash Behzadi describes his video for “Fearing Love in COVID Times:” “As the global pandemic creates ever more distance between us, I began thinking about how my composition ‘Fearing Love’ has taken on new significance. The natural next step was to produce a video to portray this unanticipated divide and the recognition that along with the alienation, comes the struggle to connect, to come together. My music video reflects these contrasting forces.”
As the camera floats over an impossibly green terraced rice field, a young girl, then another, walk slowly along the edge of a verdant terrace. The camera then cuts to a child sitting alone in a rocky glade by a waterfall. As he turns to gaze directly at us, he is wearing a mask that covers most of his face.
We next encounter a masked woman and man strolling slowly toward each other along the ocean shore as gentle waves break onto the sand. We then observe a masked woman sitting in the jungle-like glade where we first encountered the child who now slowly walks towards her.
As we return to the sand and sea, the couple warily circle each other, exchanging intense glances above their masks, their caution echoed by the cello and the piano’s chords. Slowly the couple remove their masks, gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. The scene returns to the terraced fields as the young girls run towards each other and embrace.
There is so much significance in these unfolding images: the push/pull of relationships, craving love and intimacy yet terrified of being hurt and abandoned at the same time; the social awkwardness of masks adding a further divide between us; the longing to connect, to hug a loved one yet fearful of the consequences. An unseen enemy, a virus, has created an ideological war zone between those who respect its lethality and those who do not, separating us even further, forced to distance from each other.
Anxiety is a huge barrier to intimacy. The virus raging across the earth adds another barrier.
We eye each other suspiciously, fearful, vulnerable, worried about the health risk the other may present. We are continually forced to make decisions that may have life or death consequences. We cycle from fear, helplessness and hopelessness to empathy and back. Each day brings renewed stress and uncertainty as we face job loss, isolation and disruption of future plans.
Fearing love means fearing that the person we love will control or leave us. So we build walls. But now it’s a virus that controls us. It may take our loved one away. We have no control. There are no walls between us and this unseen force. The future is uncertain.
But amid this frightening new world there is hope. The couple once again approach each other guardedly, hesitantly reaching towards each other, echoed in the cautious interplay of cello and piano. The two children in the sun-filled emerald fields lope towards each other, embrace and run free. The woman gathers up the child and joyfully spins him around. Their masks, symbols of how we hide from one another, as well as attempt to protect ourselves, now lie on the ground.
There is connection, then unexplained separation. On the beach, the woman suddenly breaks free from the man’s embrace and flees in apparent distress. The child wanders away from the maternal figure. One child walks away from the other, as a single tear trickles down the cheek of the one left behind. Sadness and regret prevail.
But hope springs eternal as the old saying goes. Piano and cello are guardedly optimistic for a moment, then swell into redemptive joy. The couple, the woman and child and the girls re-unite in tight, even joyful embraces.
Will we too also reconnect in the near future? Will we once again experience joy? Or will we continue to fear love, to fear each other in the face of so many unknowns?
Perhaps this is a global challenge, an opportunity, a chance to grow and learn and emerge stronger than ever, more resilient than ever, in a new found humanity.
Fearing Love Composer: Arash Behzadi
Cinematographer: Mario Gonzalez Diaz
Cast: Eva Aourah, Ishvara Xavier, Casey Lee, Heliz Wolfson, Ni Putu Angel Kurina Dewi, Ni Made Devi Pradnya Swari
Filmed in: Bali, Indonesia