Retro Revival: A New Take on ‘Take On Me’

Yep, whizzing back to the 80s we go, all the way back to 1985, ancient history for some. (I wouldn’t be born for another 8 years!) Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha rocked the UK and US charts (At No.2 and No.1 respectively).

The song is well-known not only for being a staple tune for any late night dance floor, the music of choice for an over-confident karaoke singer (much to the dread of anyone in earshot), or even the fact it is a supreme example of 80’s music. It is Take on Me’s music video that really sets it apart from the crowd.

The video tells the story of a comic book character (Lead singer, and heart-throb, Morten Harket) dragging a female reader, (with style only the 80’s could love) into the book. They are chased by two racers, and eventually Morten sacrifices himself so that she can escape back to the real world. Said female rushes home, only to discover her hero has been badly beaten by the aforementioned racer thugs. Suddenly Morten appears in her room, flickering between real and comic book form, and eventually (after much thrashing between walls) he materialises, and a happily ever after situation is alluded to.

Screenshot from Take On Me

The video, directed by Steve Barron, uses rotoscoping, the process of drawing on top of a film still or photograph, to bring to life Morten’s comic book world. The effect of the constantly moving pencil lines really makes it seem as if the comic has come to life, even in this modern age of HD digital animation. This rotoscoped reality is intersected with real-life filming, reflecting the two worlds as one. It is a feast for the eyes, as much as Morten, in his own 80’s way is a feast for the hormones.


What I really miss, which I believe Take on Me captures, is the magic and playfulness of animation. These days, it feels as though most mainstream animation fits under one of two aims. One of those is making animation seem as life-like as possible (but what’s the point in that? we only need to look around to see reality), the other to quickly churn out cheap animated films, purely for the absorption of kids and the unwilling parent dragged along, therefore making a quick buck.

So, why not take a few minutes out of your day to journey back to 1985, simply to revel in and remember how fun and playful animation can be?




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