Paradise - Music Video

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'Paradise' video screenshot

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Paradise video

Coldplay released the video for Paradise online on Coldplay.com and via their YouTube videos channel, ColdplayVEVO in the early hours of the 19th October 2011. In the video, a man dressed as an elephant (played by Chris Martin) escapes from a zoo in London and attempts to hitch-hike his way to another country (doing so finally by stowing away inside a suitcase). An aerial shot reveals that his initial destination was Cape Town, South Africa. He is then seen wandering around Johannesburg, at one point, walking past Nelson Mandela Bridge and a set of railway tracks in Braamfontein. He then earns enough money by busking (which appears to be ZAR 67.05, roughly equivalent to USD 8.40) on the street for a unicycle, and after a seemingly hopeless wander comes across three other elephants (the rest of Coldplay) playing the song in the veld (South African grasslands). The video shifts to the band playing a live show at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg before returning to the desert where they run towards the camera.

The music video was shot on location in London, Cape Town, the Klein Karoo in the Western Cape and Johannesburg.

See also (in-detail):


Trivia: Cycle store owner originally turned filmers away

Screenshot showing the elephant (played by Chris Martin) entering Woodstock Cycle Works in Cape Town
Scenes from Coldplay's Paradise music video feature Cape Town trademarks and local spots specifically requested by lead singer Chris Martin - including Woodstock Cycle Works - and shop-owner Nils Hansen said he was shocked that they wanted to film at his store. Hansen initially turned away the location scout and cameraman.

"They told me they were shooting a 'low-budget film'," Hansen said. "If I’d known it was Coldplay, I would’ve jumped onboard right away!" The video shows Martin interacting with a Woodstock Cycle Works employee. Hansen said: "Chris Martin was very down to earth. He kept apologising for wasting my time. Which is funny, because it was this memorable event for all of us."

Already, the video is bringing queries and business to the store. "People have been calling, and just today a group came in a few hours after the video was released, asking if this was the place," Hansen said. "I still can’t believe it."

In addition to the bike shop scene, Chris requested a scene filmed on a bakkie, said Cape Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie. Chris also aimed to feature Table Mountain. Lillie was impressed with the quick turnaround for the video – it was filmed less than two weeks ago and released yesterday. "The production and logistics went very smoothly. From an industry perspective, the band was pleased and impressed," said Lillie. "It goes both ways – we’re impressed that they got the video out so quickly."

Coldplay was anything but cold towards Cape Town, Lillie said. "They were overwhelmed by the reaction at the concert and the natural beauty of this city." He said that the Cape Film Commission expects the music video to be a big ticket and a free tourism campaign for Cape Town. "When you watch the iconic Table Mountain in the video it’s hard not to want to come see it."

Coldplay spontaneously flew the video crew to Cape Town after their concert on October 5th. The video was directed by Mat Whitecross, the director of films The Road to Guantanamo and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. "The whole crew was great to work with," said Lillie. "We all responded positively to each other’s suggestions."

Hype Williams original Paradise video scrapped

Tweet alleging that Hype Williams (Viva la Vida) was directing Paradise video (12th September 2011)
Coldplay initially announced that the single's music video would be directed by Hype Williams (who previously directed the first version of the "Viva la Vida" music video) but that version was scrapped after shooting and the band decided instead to record a new version directed by long-time collaborator Mat Whitecross.

At the release of the first play of Paradise, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles let slip that Coldplay were working on a video on Monday and Tuesday (12th and 13th September, 2011). This was partly-confirmed by a tweet from a user from the RED Cameras and Filmmakers forum that said: "RED EPIC-X #00031 flies to London for Coldplay Music Video Shoot with Hype Williams". [1]. However this shoot was never released.

At the release of the first play of Paradise, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles let slip that Coldplay were working on a video on Monday and Tuesday (12th and 13th September, 2011). This was partly-confirmed by a tweet from a user from the RED Cameras and Filmmakers forum that said: "RED EPIC-X #00031 flies to London for Coldplay Music Video Shoot with Hype Williams". [2]

Chris Martin talks about working with Hype Williams and 'a girl' on Coldplay's (now scrapped original) Paradise video

A recent R#42 blog photo showing Coldplay recording the Paradise video... but this version was never released
Since we exclusively reported that Hype Williams was working with Coldplay's new video for Paradise, Williams's first with the band since the official Viva la Vida shoot back in 2008, MTV [3] have all but confirmed the collaboration with an interview with Chris Martin during the Austin City Limits festival this past weekend. They hinted at a new face appearing in the video. Here's what they had to say:

Coldplay already told MTV News that they decided to roll the dice and go with the inscrutable title of Mylo Xyloto for their upcoming fifth album. But when the time came to make a video for their second release from the disc (due October 25), the beat-infected Paradise, they went all in and reteamed with a director best known for lensing clips for some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B (Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross). "We just started to do a video on Monday on 'Paradise,'" singer Chris Martin told MTV News at the Austin City Limits festival. "And the bits that we're not in are being done almost as we speak."

The new clip — whose concept Martin kept under wraps — is being directed by Hype Williams, who first worked with the band three years ago on the title track to their last album, Viva La Vida. That clip had the feel of a Renaissance painting, complete with cracked paint effects, and Martin said they decided to work with Williams again because, well, why not? "We're just following the things we love," he said. "The video we did before, for 'Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,' we did with our friend Mat [Whitecross], who is the most indie of indie filmmakers. It's just nice when you can try both approaches."

Frontman Chris went on to explain: "Paradise is about a girl really, the female half of the album, just about being a bit lost in the world and escaping through fantasy." As for the promo for the song – which has been directed by Hype Williams - Chris admitted he prefers not to grace the screen for the band’s music videos, and would rather leave that up to "someone attractive and beautiful". He went on to hint the Paradise video "might have to have a girl in it," joking that "it might actually be pleasurable to watch!"

Between working with Williams, opting for a cryptic title and roping in a surprise cameo from Rihanna on the song "Princess of China," Martin explained that Coldplay are just rolling the dice because they've kind of earned the right. "We felt like so many people have already made up their minds about us ... both good and bad," Martin said. "That we can sort of start again from scratch and try and reflect all the music we listen to and love."

Media Reviews

Popdust wrote: "It’s likely a person’s version of “paradise” is unique to his or her own interests and desires, yet Coldplay feels no shame in declaring that their idyllic land of choice involves fuzzy elephants, or humans wearing full-body animal costumes. Their new video for “Paradise” features one lonely elephant who has spent his days in a Lost-like cage before breaking free and scouring lands far and wide—the African countryside to the London tube—for his fellow brethren. A brief glimpse of the man underneath the mask reveals that this is probably Chris Martin, although we should have known from the agile leaps and skilled unicycle riding while on his way back to his friends. Once reunited, the foursome find their rightful place atop a giant stadium stage, leading a singalong while wearing their signature performance accessories. Give these humans-as-animals credit, as most of us have to spend more time and energy going through the monotony of airport security before we can country-hop with such ease, all of which seems to escape them. We have no other explanation for use of animal costumes in the video, save for the fact that Apple and Moses probably went through a Dumbo phase at some point. Anthropomorphism has been getting a lot of attention this year alone, though, and it’s refreshing to see the Serious Rockers, who have transitioned from indie favorites into making music that perfectly soundtracks television’s most cheesy dramatic scenes, showcase their more playful side." [4]

Global Grind were complimentary, saying: "Coldplay finally showed us what "Paradise" looks like and it's just as eccentric as we thought! The alternative rock band dropped the visuals for their second single, "Paradise," yesterday and it continues the group's usual exploration of the unusual. The video centers around a person dressed in an elephant suit who travels from London all the way to South Africa to meet-up and rock-out with fellow elephant suit-wearing rockers. Yeah, it's a little trippy, but we think it's cool and it matches the vibe of the song well. Plus, the timing for a video like this is perfect with Halloween around the corner!" [5]

MTV were one of the first to review the video: "You can add another line to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin's rather lengthy list of accomplishments: The man can ride a unicycle. This is the takeaway from Coldplay's brand-new video for "Paradise" — a standout track on their upcoming Mylo Xyloto album — which premiered Wednesday (October 19) on the band's site and features Martin, dressed in a plushy elephant costume, embarking on a unicycle trip in South Africa. Among other things, of course. The clip opens with sun-drenched shots of the South African plains, wildebeest silhouetted against the setting sun. We then cut to Martin (as an elephant) jailed against his will in a London zoo but planning an escape...

When he finally busts out, he hops on the Tube, makes a beeline for Heathrow Airport and sneaks aboard a plane bound for Johannesburg, his home. After procuring a unicycle (some interpretive dance is involved), he rides through the countryside — at one point removing his elephant head to prove that, yes, it's him aboard the unicycle — until he discovers his bandmates, who, of course, are also dressed as elephants. We then cut to some actual performance footage from the band's South African concerts, where they bop and leap (while still wearing those elephant heads), much to the thrill of the audience. The video ends with a gleeful, slo-mo shot of the band sprinting across the plains, in full elephant regalia. And yes, it's plenty silly. But such is the appeal of Coldplay, certainly one of the biggest bands on the planet and, yet, one unafraid to have a little fun from time to time. And, in a way, it plays perfectly into the "Paradise" lyrics, which are very much about a girl dreaming of escaping her dire situation and disappearing to her own personal heaven. Not to mention the fact that, much like the song's blissed-out chorus, there is genuine joy in watching the band leaping about in plushy suits while the South African sun beats down upon them. Leave it to Coldplay to make a rather profound point — that we are all caged in some way, and we all long for escape — while still having a laugh too. And leave it to Chris Martin to prove that, even though he's married to a movie star, has two children, does humanitarian work and fronts one of planet Earth's hugest rock acts, he still found time to learn how to ride a unicycle. The man is truly capable of anything, it would seem." [6]


Coldplay's Paradise music video was released yesterday and its scenes feature Cape Town trademarks and local spots specifically requested by lead singer Chris Martin. Woodstock Cycle Works owner Nils Hansen said he was shocked that they wanted to film at his store. Hansen initially turned away the location scout and cameraman.

“They told me they were shooting a ‘low-budget film’,” Hansen said. “If I’d known it was Coldplay, I would’ve jumped onboard right away!” The video shows Martin interacting with a Woodstock Cycle Works employee. Hansen said: “Chris Martin was very down to earth. He kept apologising for wasting my time. Which is funny, because it was this memorable event for all of us.”

Already, the video is bringing queries and business to the store. “People have been calling, and just today a group came in a few hours after the video was released, asking if this was the place,” Hansen said. “I still can’t believe it.”

In addition to the bike shop scene, Martin requested a scene filmed on a bakkie, said Cape Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie. Martin also aimed to feature Table Mountain. Lillie was impressed with the quick turnaround for the video – it was filmed less than two weeks ago and released yesterday. “The production and logistics went very smoothly. From an industry perspective, the band was pleased and impressed,” said Lillie. “It goes both ways – we’re impressed that they got the video out so quickly.”

Coldplay was anything but cold towards Cape Town, Lillie said. “They were overwhelmed by the reaction at the concert and the natural beauty of this city.”

He said that the Cape Film Commission expects the music video to be a big ticket and a free tourism campaign for Cape Town. “When you watch the iconic Table Mountain in the video it’s hard not to want to come see it.”

Coldplay spontaneously flew the video crew to Cape Town after their concert on October 5. The video was directed by Mat Whitecross, the director of films The Road to Guantanamo and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. “The whole crew was great to work with,” said Lillie. “We all responded positively to each other’s suggestions.”

Paradise video is a hit with Coldplay fans in megapoll

To follow...


South African tourism industry revelling in the limelight cast by Paradise video

The SA tourism industry is revelling in the limelight cast by one of the globe’s favourite music videos – shot in the Cape and now viewed more than 52 million times. SA Tourism has been lavished with high praise for facilitating the production of super-band Coldplay’s Paradise video, which the band’s team shot in Cape Town, the Boland and the Karoo. The band performed in Joburg and Cape Town in October and at short notice decided to capture the imagery for their hit Paradise in the paradise they discovered in Africa. The music video tells the story of a lonely elephant in a London zoo which longs for companionship. The jumbo escapes, heads south and finally reaches its fellow-African wildlife in the Karoo – its “paradise”. Tourism blogger and tourism business owner Chris von Ulmenstein saluted SA Tourism: “The title of the song could not have been better chosen to reflect our beautiful country and city, and its popularity as a song, and as a fun and funky beautifully shot music video, has a tremendous tourism benefit for South Africa generally, and the Cape specifically, not costing the tourism authorities a cent. “The song has just started 2012 as the number one single on the UK hit charts, to the band’s own surprise in their Tweets.”

As of 13th January 2011, the video had been watched more than 52 million times on YouTube. Another on-line commentator wrote that the video was “a gift that’s literally fallen into South Africa’s lap”. “It’s a level of global popularity that South African Tourism wants to capitalise on to drive awareness of the paradise-like beauty of this destination and to encourage more people to take Coldplay’s South African inspiration and turn it into a holiday in the most beautiful destination in the world.” [7]

Coldplayers' Reviews

I love it! I'm so glad they don't take themselves too seriously, it's a really fun video. I'm also a little biased because I just loved seeing parts of SA and re-living the Joburg concert (also analysing every second of the concert footage in an attempt to spot myself). [thanks Fairycat101]

Not sure what I think of it yet. Certainly more interesting than most Coldplay videos (Life in Technicolor ii and Strawberry Swing are obvious exceptions), but I don't really like that concert scene at the end. The camera-work isn't nearly as smooth and, dare I say it, artistic as the rest of the video, and as a result it seems kind of jarring. The elephant group hug is kind of endearing though. [thanks Hartroc]

Dear Santa, I want a Williphant for christmas! I don't care for the song, but the video is downright precious gold! [thanks kjones31]

ELEPHANTASTIC. I loved it and got goosebumps. When it was finished I looked up at - not the stars - but at the open VH1 Denmark - and it was Coldplay with VIVA LA VIDA. So a wonderful start of Tuesday here in Denmark (it is now 6:18 and it is still dark). But very nice and touching with the homecoming of the elephant. Happy tears. [thanks nancyk58]

Hahahahaha! I LOVED it! I think it's awesome. So glad it isn't some depressing video about a girl. Too obvious for a video idea. This is so much better. Love that it's so random and silly and have nothing to do with the song. Just like the The Hardest Part video. [thanks shred]

BEST VIDEO I'VE EVER SEEN. it has those sulky lyrics about running away in her sleep, and then BAM. ELEPHANTS. ON UNICYCLES. hahahahaha. I literally had tears running down my face from laughing so hard. I think it shows that they don't take Paradise as a song too seriously either, which is fantastic they could have had some serious video with some lonely girl walking the streets or some shit, but instead they have Chris as an elephant. on a unicycle. and doing the moonwalk. so amazing. Favorite parts: the Chris-elephant street dancing montage; the part on the airplane with the trunk sneaking food; Jonny-elephant's hat and Guy-elephant's "cool" face; Chris on a unicycle. this video has made my day, and it's only 1AM. [thanks notlost92]

hahhahaha. Oh my god, That video is sooooo silly. I love the fact taht coldplay does whatever the hell they want too, My favorite part was when Chris was riding the unicycle and he thumbed for a ride, and then just dropped his arms like...wtf mate? and the train scene. Everyone's just sitting around like.....wtf? Theres an elephant on my train... [thanks cackyy]

Actually enjoyed the video - man, matt whitcross really does a good job with coldplay material given what the band probably wanted to do - still am interested what the hype williams version looked like esp w/ the girl actually being the centerpiece of the song. Still glad to see the band enjoying themselves, though - they really have a good camraderie and chemistry - Can u imagine if Jonny or Guy were as dominant as Chris was - hopefully this band stays together for a long time. They've got the magic, that's for sure. [thanks bdevil89]

I thought it was weird when I heard about it... But seriously? I am so confused what sort of even slight relevance it has. And also, if that is the elephants family-- it's in an all male herd which rarely/never happens. /realisticsciencenerd. I really do enjoy it though. It's brought a smile to my face and I really can't stop laughing at it. A mediocre song saved by a slightly quirky video. [thanks Nattatouille]

I love this video. Strange, because I've hated every other Coldplay video (except The Scientist). I think it does a really good job of showing what the song is about in a new, fun and innovative way. I love how it preserves the somber meaning of the song but makes it humorous and positive, so it transforms the song's meaning whatever you want it to be. Outstanding. I would give it 11 out of 10 elephants if I could, haha. [thanks Baw8cc]

The Oracle on the Paradise - Music Video

August 14, 2013 - submitted by Maren, Germany
Q. Dear Oracle, I have another question about underground scenes in Video PARADISE. We all know it was recorded at Belsize Park Station but this station has no escelator and in Min 0:40, Elephant Chris is standing between signs Northern Line and Bakerloo Line. As you know Elephant wants to go to Heathrow. Only Piccadilly Line goes there. So he has to change. My question: Was it recorded also in Charing Cross Underground (because of Northern and Bakerloo Line) and he changes at Piccadilly Station to Heathrow?? Sorry for my bad English. Maren
The Oracle replies:
Well, the first thing to tell you is that a video isn't necessarily factually correct. That means that artistic license can be used to create illusion. The elephant appears to make that journey but that doesn't mean he actually did. You are right that Belsize Park Underground station doesn't have an escalator. If I was going to Heathrow from Belsize Park, I would take the Northern Line to Leicester Square and change for the Piccadilly Line there. However, it is indeed Charing Cross station that we see our elephant stood between signs for the Northern & Bakerloo line. London has several airports and none of them would require getting off at Charing Cross station. This is where the artistic license comes in. The video is shot and edited to tell a story but shouldn't be taken as 100% accurate. Some scenes look better with the benefit of those aesthetic choices (the escalator for sure). I'd never really paid attention to the details or inaccuracies but you went to a lot of trouble so I hope I made sense of it for you.

May 14, 2012 - submitted by Elise, Brazil
Q. There was a rumor that Brazilian model Cintia Dicker attended the Paradise video. There are photos on twitter with pictures of the band a shot of the video, that does not appear in any of the two already presented. There is another version of Paradise?
The Oracle replies:
Yes, as you have seen photos I can tell you there was another video but it was - we won't be seeing it. I for one am very happy the first was discarded because the elephant video is my favourite Coldplay video ever.

December 22, 2011 - submitted by Mallory, United Kingdom
Q. Are you going to let some fans win those elephant costumes used in Paradise as a competition ? xxxx
The Oracle replies:
Er, no, we're not. Those costumes weren't bespoke by the way, they were hired from a regular fancy dress hire firm and that's why you will sometimes see other people at concerts wearing the exact same ones.

October 20, 2011 - submitted by Darren, United Kingdom
Q. Hi Oracle, hope you are well did Chris really get on the tube at Belsize Park and Sit on the tube with norms (normal peoples) and no one knew it was him? Or was it a stunt a phant?
The Oracle replies:
He really did get on the tube. There's been a lot of questions about the video so read the next couple also...

October 20, 2011 - submitted by France, Canada
Q. Hi Oracle, I saw the Paradise video and it made my day. And what a day it was... Can you share a funny story about the shoot? I am sure that there is one... an elephant does not blend well in our busy cities. France
The Oracle replies:
As it was filmed in different locations it was pieced together over quite a time. The South African outdoor shots were filmed on 7th October and the live performance was the following night at the Johannesburg gig. The week after when they got back to London, Chris shot the underground scenes. I do have a funny story (well, I think it's funny) from that day. On 11th October, Shaun Weston (from Bristol) wrote on twitter, "I rode a Charing Cross escalator with Chris Martin today. He was dressed as an elephant. Anyone else see him, or was I dreaming?" I know a few people saw Chris that day and it did surprise a few fans.

October 20, 2011 - submitted by Jessica, United States of America
Q. Dearest Oracle, I am in love with the song Paradise and rightly so I am also in love with the music video for it. I have a question though. Why does Guy have a different elephant suit than everyone else? I noticed that his suit is darker than the rest and doesn't have elephant feet/shoes. Also why doesn't Guy's elephant have any identifying features like Johnny's has his trademark hat and Will's has a pair of glasses? Also why does Will's elephant have glasses? I don't recall ever seeing him wear glasses during performances. Thank you Oracle! p.s. I want to tell the band that I loved that they used elephants over any other animals, they're the best, both the band and elephants. Love, Jessica
The Oracle replies:
See, the fact that Guy's elephant doesn't have elephant feet makes him different and so maybe that's his defining difference? I actually wonder if there's more to a passing nod to The Banana Splits, a late 60's children's entertainment combo. They had an elephant who wore glasses - although Snorky (the bespectacled one) wasn't the drummer; he was the keyboard player. I have seen Will wear glasses - granted not during a performance but that wouldn't be practical anyway given the power machine that he is. Can you imagine attempting Politik and avoiding glasses steaming up or flying off? No, I didn't think so... One of The Banana Splits doesn't have his animal's feet, so maybe as with Guy, the normal feet is another nod?

October 19, 2011 - submitted by Brian K, United States of America
Q. Just watched the Paradise video and was wondering, can Chris really ride a unicycle?
The Oracle replies:
You saw it with your own eyes; it wasn't a trick. Chris takes things seriously so I doubt him not unicycling was ever in question. I think that man could quite possibly do anything he sets his mind to!

October 17, 2011 - submitted by Ian, United Kingdom
Q. With such serious subject matter, how would Chris riding on a unicycle fit in with Paradise? Not that I don't think it is a wonderful idea haha.
The Oracle replies:
What, no mention of wearing an elephant costume whilst riding a unicycle? I would have thought that was stranger! You'll have to wait and see but as Phil said earlier today, he's at the video edit with Mat Whitecross so not much longer until you find out.

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