He digs deep to introduce us to them: the dreams that disturb his sleep every night. The ones where he runs, but is rooted to the spot. In which he races, but doesn't get anywhere. In which another person uses his voice and his words. All of us have had similar experiences when asleep.
In the music video for the track "Tripping" from 2005, Robbie Williams recreates his dreams in moving pictures. The walls of a hotel hallway seem to be morphing and moving past him whilst he is desperately trying to escape - to no avail: A terrifying scene reminiscent of the movie classic "The Shining".
Our protagonist faces similar anxieties when trying to scale the hotel stairs. They simply adapt to his increasingly frantic efforts, like a Stairmaster in a fitness centre, and once again he doesn't get anywhere. A similar dilemma awaits him in a bewildering labyrinth - THE most obvious metaphor for a loss of orientation. A hopeless undertaking.
In another scene, he finds himself in a cramped lift with an oversized man in drag. A claustrophobic place he cannot escape from - until the lift doors open once more. If indeed they do open and the lift doesn't get stuck between floors.
Chimerical dreamscapes alternate with scenes of him sleeping; tossing and turning in his bed in the grip of an apparent nightmare. We have a bird's eye view of our protagonist - a perspective emphasising his defenceless exposure. But who is really defenceless, and to whom, remains in the eye of the beholder.
In the video to "Tripping", primal human fears come to the fore, reflecting the unresolved issues of everyday life by visualising metaphors for the desperate will to act, but the inability to do so. Williams vicariously experiences these and other conflicts - facing himself and the dream characters around him. But despite all the drama, the short film does not induce a sense of bitterness or depression in the viewer.
Quite the opposite! The eye-catching wallpaper and brightly coloured costumes, props and environments give a positive air to the events unfolding before us. The walls aren't just white or monochrome - the imaginative patterns provide a stage-managed background. Along with other prop elements, they empathise the metaphysical state of the featured actors.
The term "Tripping" has many meanings: going crazy, falling over, overreacting, being on drugs... Which kind of trip Robbie Williams might have been on when he wrote this song is anyone's guess. He certainly has the last laugh. Perhaps he was simply holding a mirror up to the viewer. Who knows...
One thing we do know is that wallpapers and their patterns can be intoxicating and lend wings to the imagination... Without imbibing any illegal substances! Skilfully choosing the right wallpaper can make very clear statements and reveal a part of one's personality, grant a glance into one's character or simply express emotions: a little bit psychedelic, a little bit crazy, a bit different or simply harmonious. Just goes to show: There is a wallpaper for every person and every state of mind!