Till Eternity

Chris BeecherArgument, Film and Media, New Voices, Previous Editions, Responding to a Text

On January 2013, Justin Timberlake announced his 20/20 experience album, which was released on February 11th, 2013. It was nearly 7 years since the pop star artist released an album, and on it was a song called “Mirrors.”

Imagine being a newlywed and wanting to write a fascinating song for your partner. Well, that’s where the song “Mirrors” comes in. After being premiered on February of 2013, many critics including Billboard articles described the song as Justin Timberlake’s personal marriage anthem. Its 8 minute video shows an older couple standing by a mirror and dozing off into a past memory montage until they reach their present state. Since the video takes place in a past, present, and future environment, many viewers see this song as an ideal and romantic video dedicated to all couples who love each other through all conditions and circumstances. According to Top40, “at its heart, ’Mirrors‘ is a very simple love song about the feelings of completeness and devotion in a relationship. It is believed the song was written about Justin Timberlake wife Jessica Biel. Especially since his past relationship didn’t go so well.” I strongly disagree with Top40 overall review of the song. I believe that Justin Timberlake wrote this song towards his grandparents, and not his wife. This video was made to show the world the overall message of being dedicated through unconditional love and circumstances that his grandparents had. As you get more into to the video you start to realize the deeper meaning of identity, cultural values, and love being told. You will ignore half of the hidden messages being shown due to camera angles and effects being used. Not until you stop or replay the video to analyze the scenes properly the message will become clearer. The overall issue in this video could be the hidden messages being told in the mirrors and reflections. It allows the reader to acknowledge the idea of gone but never forgotten.

First, in the beginning of the video is a sad- eyed, silver-haired female actress boxing up a man’s belongings. The odd part is the male actor is standing behind her, almost as if he’s a ghost or past memory. The overall hidden message here is her husband has passed away The video begins with the words “dedicated to William and Sadie.” The real life William, who inspired Justin’s clothing line was “William Rast, [who] died on December 29, after having a long battle of heart trouble and dementia. According to the online website “Radar,” “his health problems prevented his grandparents from traveling to Italy to attend their grandson’s wedding with Jessica Biel.” Later on in the video, the fictional Sadie’s wedding ring falls off and gets caught by her grandson. From this point it seems as the artist intention are to carry on his family’s legacy and an enjoyable life with his new wife; a life as the one his grandparents shared for 63 years.

Following this is something eye catching. Throughout the whole video you’ll notice a book flipping open. Just before we can make any more assumptions the book stops half way. Fast forwarding a couple seconds ahead and you’ll notice the same book being placed on the edge of the counter next to the biggest mirror in the room. Juxtaposing that, the same couple in their late 60s early 70s. At this point it seems as if the book will be the main focus point throughout the couple’s life in the video. It seems to explain the couple’s cultural values of their era such as love, commitment, and memories. As we get more into the video you’ll notice the younger version of the male handing his future wife the same exact book. This is one out of the few scenes where the male is shown taking control and expressing his intentions towards his future wife. After this scene everything becomes narrower.

Since the book is in almost every scene we start to question what the book means or represents. The book seems to be JT’s grandparents’ life story. Every single little detail of their life is being recorded in their personal  “Notebook”  as told before: Pain, drama, love, etc. According to Justin Timberlake, “I think a relationship, when it’s working, is constantly evolving because we as individuals evolve. You want to know that the person you’re with is evolving with you.” Although, this song represents love in a marriage, it couldn’t be only for his newlywed wife but, a message or experience that his grandparents shared with him.

Continuing with the idea of together forever and memory lane, the video continues to express identity within each scene. An example from the story is its beginning. In the beginning of the video you will notice two names being mentioned: “William and Sadie.” This allows the reader to understand the fact that these people have had a connection with the artist. According to “Hollywood life by Bonnie Faller,” Justin Timberlake dedicated this song not only to his wife but to his grandparents who were married for over 60 years. It seems that his grandparents motivated him to find unconditional love that doesn’t exists in our time. An example would be the 1960s; couples took their wedding vows seriously when it came to love and promises. They made a life promise to God and each other to love each other throughout any circumstances and life.

In a way this music video reminds me of the movie The Notebook. The Notebook has a similar premise as to the video. In the movie, which took place around the 1950s-60s, the couple made a commitment of love. They went through pain, drama, time, and commitment to be with each other. Over all the most important part would be the ending. The female character loses her memory and forgets her whole life experience with her husband but, that doesn’t stop him from being with her. He stays committed and by her side no matter the situation. He even reads to her their personal notebook (in which he wrote every day). The overall connection between the video and movie is this image of the loss of a love one and the power of love. In the movie, the male character had lost his wife but, keeps her identity and his commitment towards her by the   use of their personal notebook. The video expresses the same thing which triggers a slow montage of their life experience.

Where there’s identity, there are cultural values. In the video you’ll notice how identity and cultural values merge between one another. In the first couple of seconds of the video you’ll quickly notice the woman’s action before the man. Originally in our culture the male is supposed to be dominant. However, the woman is the first to show any real pain and struggle instead of the man with in every scene. While the man is being less focused, the woman comes off as the supporting point towards the entire video. An example would be the camera angle and effects being used towards her. In every scene the women is shown having flash backs of her life story. One scene in particular is the flashback montage she gets after seeing her husband  looking at  her marriage dress. Normally the male is shown telling the story from his perspective but at this point everything is shown from her perspective. Just as the women’s flashback finishes, the couple’s story comes to an end. Once again the focus point is their book. Just as the married couple closes the book they realized their love story is at an end.

Although many people don’t see it, towards the end of the video you’ll notice the lyrics stating a certain message. Following that, multiple mirrors are used that show the couple’s personal feelings towards one another, especially since the mirrors are mainly focused towards their older selves. I believe that the artist added a similar element that was used in the movie The Notebook for his ending scene. For example the lyrics state “Now I say good bye to the old me, it’s already gone and I can’t wait, wait, wait to get you home … I am looking at the other half of me” following with the idea of the male actor being gone (passed away). This would be similar to the movie The Notebook, when the older gentlemen states towards the end she is my home. “That’s my sweetheart. Wherever she is that’s where my home his.” Therefore, they are each other’s better half and will always be together through thick and thin.

Over all, this music wasn’t dedicated to or inspired by his wife Jessica. This video was meant to show the world and his wife what a memorable life his grandparents experienced together. I believe that “Top40” overall review was completely wrong. Justin Timberlake clearly wrote and produced this song for his grandparents who inspired him to continue his search for true love. According to Daily Mail: “the singer took inspiration from his grandparents in the new promo clip for his new single, feature a mirror like reflection of them.” Nothing beats old love, just like nothing can’t vanquish what life has in store for you.


Works Cited

Timberlake, Justin, “Mirrors by Justin Timberlake.” Online video. YouTube. YouTube, 11 Feb, 2013. Edited 19 Mar, 2013. Web Dec 1, 2015.

Fraley, RC, ME Heffernan, AM Vicary, and CC Brumbaugh. “The Experiences in Close Relationships- Relationship Structures Questionnaire: A Method for Assessing Attachment Orientations Across Relationships.” Psychological Assessment, 23.3 (2011): 615-625.

Vergnes, Jean-Noel. “Love.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 161.10 (2014): 758.