When Adele’s new video for “Hello” was released on Friday, Oct. 23, plenty of fans had the same question: Why does she have a flip phone?
As emotional and poignant as the video is, some viewers couldn’t help but zero in on the outdated piece of technology – with jokes like “It’s not just Adele’s comeback. It’s the flip phone’s comeback too” and “A flip phone, Adele? Explains the lack of tweets.”
Director Xavier Dolan has a simple explanation for his choice to use a flip phone in the visual treatment for the song, which is the first single from Adele’s upcoming album 25.
“I could see the GIFs on Twitter,” he tells the Los Angeles Times. “I’m like, ‘Guys, get over it. It doesn’t matter.’ But the real explanation is that I never like filming modern phones or cars. They’re so implanted in our lives that when you see them in movies you’re reminded you’re in reality.”
“If you see an iPhone or a Toyota in a movie, they’re anti-narrative, they take you out of the story,” Dolan continues. “If I put an iPhone or a modern car in a movie it feels like I’m making a commercial.”
It turns out that the phone booth shown in the video has much more meaning than the decision to feature a flip phone. “It says she is stranded in nature, which has regained its rights,” he says. “It’s an element of the past. It’s much more important than the flip [phone] and trying to identify whether it’s Samsung or an AE9 or whatever.”
The video, which was shot on a farm in Quebec, stars The Wire actor Tristan Wilds as Adele’s ex. He is seen in flashbacks through Adele’s point of view.
“It’s the ‘connect with memory,’ the ‘walk down memory lane,'” says Dolan. “We would cut from Adele in the present to this guy looking at her and not have a younger version of Adele so that watching it, you would feel like her looking back.”
“When I heard the song I saw a story right away, just this idea of taking the phone and calling your past,” he recalls.