Short Film Theater: ‘The Wilderness Downtown’


Canadian indie-rock band The Arcade Fire have collaborated with director Chris Milk and Google to create a short film/music video that only the internet could deliver. Titled “The Wilderness Downtown,” the interactive video is a truly unique web experience that combines animation, Google Maps, live-action video, The Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait,” and the viewers’ nostalgia.

Made possible by HTML5 programming, “The Wilderness Downtown” begins by prompting viewers to enter the address of the home where they grew up. As the video progresses, new pop-up windows appear, guiding your focus as you’re taken on a journey back home. The program even allows you to write a postcard (or words of advice) to your younger self – making the viewer self reflect and participatory in the experiment.

Upon the video’s conclusion, viewers are given the option of sharing their postcards (some postcards will even end up in the band’s North American tour), and respond to other postcards.

The music is powerful, yet doesn’t overcome the visuals or the emotion evoked. Interestingly, each viewer will experience “The Wilderness Downtown” differently; not only because of our varying home addresses, but also because of the different feelings we have toward our childhood homes. Personally, seeing the recently sold home of my childhood evoked the first feelings of sadness, as I realized I could never return home there again.

Experience “The Wilderness Downtown” for yourself at

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1 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. H Solo #

    Bizarre but cool.

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