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Watch: Thom Yorke is literally stuck in a lift in Radiohead’s surreal new video for ‘Lift’

Directed by Oscar Hudson, the video holds a stream of surprises even for hardcore Radiohead fans.


In 1997, while issuing the album OK Computer, Radiohead decided to leave out Lift, a song very popular with their audience, for that very reason. They simply didn’t want to get too popular with that kind of sound (too little, too late).

Two decades later, for the 20th Anniversary reissue of the album OKNOTOK, the band finally reissued the song, officially as part of an album this time.

The song’s light, breezy sound is heavily reminiscent of 1990s Radiohead, even as it maintains the paranoia and dreariness of OK Computer. The alienation and melancholia are especially apparent in the new music video (above) which was released on Tuesday. Shot by Oscar Hudson, the video for Lift is literally set in a lift.

The video shows Thom Yorke dressed in an overcoat, holding two plastic bags, and getting inside a lift on the 18th floor. He’s followed into the lift by a woman and a young girl, who turnout to be his real-life girlfriend, Dajana Roncione, and his daughter, Agnes. Both get off on the 17th floor, but only after, much to Thom’s indignation, the girl presses nearly all the buttons in the lift. Thus begins Thom’s surreal journey as he’s stuck in that never-ending elevator ride down.

The video plays out like the inverse of Daydreaming (video below), in which Thom walks through a series of doors with different scenarios and people. People of various ages and gender come and go, yet Thom stays “stuck in a lift”.

For Radiohead fans, the video is essentially a large basket filled with Easter Eggs, as it is littered with multiple references to older Radiohead tracks and videos, such as Paranoid Android, Karma Police, Fake Plastic Trees, There There and Numbers (amongst others). At one point, the number on the lift when it is at the first floor changes from 01 to OK – a reference to the fact that OK Computer’s working title was Ones and Zeroes.

Hudson, who also shot a vignette for Radiohead’s Numbers, told Pitchfork, “I wanted there to be some things to dig up in there, but I also wanted it to be a film in its own right. I want people to do their own thinking, too.”

He added that he took inspiration from a documentary called Lift by Mar Isaacs, which had a similar aesthetic and theme.

The ending offers a typical Radiohead-like twist.

“This is the place
Sit down, you’re safe now
You’ve been stuck in a lift
We’ve been trying to reach you, Thom
This is the place
It won’t hurt ever again
Today is the first day
Of the rest of your days
So lighten up, squirt.”

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.