Like most genres, music videos took a while to become their own thing, with early pioneers taking their cues from cinema, concert footage, promotional shorts and behind-the-scenes documentaries, among other influences. At the same time, there were music videos that somehow arrived fully-formed, helmed by artists who just seemed to get, intuitively, the inherent possibilities of this new medium. Released as the first single off their sophomore effort Seventeen Seconds, The Cure's "A Forest" is one of those videos - a spine-tingling fever dream that immediately and intuitively grasps that sparseness and spareness would be one of the key ways to access the ghostly space where music and image collide. Drenched in blue-green light, it intercuts footage of the band playing the song with images of forests, although they perhaps deserve to be call after-images rather than images, drawing on the inchoate and inverted visual configurations that remain imprinted on the eyelid after you’ve closed your eyes, or after you’ve just heard a piece of music – barely-formulated, half-unconscious fragements of visualese you’re hardly aware of processing or possessing at the time. At moments, it’s a bit like out-takes from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari were left to rot and decay on a long-forgotten shelf until they were luridly and exotically restored with an 80s sheen, in what often looks like a forerunner of The Blair Witch Project as much as a seminal slice of post-punk minimalism. In that sense, it plays as a kind of sequel to Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which discovered the genesis of Goth rock in silent cinema, except that here it feels as if the Cure are literally scoring a silent film, putting silence squarely at the centre of it all – not an inappropriate sensation for a single, and album, which so often seems to will itself into silence, “running towards nothing” with that peculiar isolation, lonelieness and uncanniness that only early cinema can bring. Perhaps that’s why the music video never really presents the band as a band so much as a sequence of atomised soloists, leaching away any sense of an audience in turn, until it provides you with something like the claustrophobic immediacy of a live performance but without any of the accompanying relief of community or collectivity. To watch it, then, is in some sense to be instantly drafted into the band, which turns out to be the most isolating experience imaginable, so miserable that Robert Smith doesn’t even need to wear makeup yet. Natural, naked and younger than you ever would have thought it could be, his face leaves no illusion that it’s addressing a camera rather than a live audience, which, strangely enough, turns out to be one of the simplest yet uncanniest ways to embrace music video, still unsettling some thirty odd years down the track.