a closer kpop reading of cix’s cinema

delve into the symbolism in cix’s new music video, cinema. SPOILER: it involves dante’s inferno (no I’m not kidding)

CIX is definitely in my top five favorite groups so I was super excited about their comeback, and I wasn’t disappointed. Cinema is a gorgeous song, and the video has such a pretty palette and so many fun scenes. At first, I was too caught up in enjoying to really take a close look at what I was seeing, but with subsequent rewatches, I realized that this video holds the key to understanding and interpreting CIX’s entire discography. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

What Is Cinema by CIX about, anyway?

Cinema is a metaphor in song form. The lyrics describe a relationship from the standpoint of a movie. Places where you go are the setting, and the different phases if it are chapters and scenes. Just like with a movie, you don’t know what the ending will be. Once the first film is over, you look back on the moments you enjoyed most and you look forward to the sequel.

How the imagery in the Cinema MV relates to the song is pretty straightforward. Throughout the video, we see the members of CIX making a movie and acting out different scenes in it.

About Dante’s Divine Comedy

To understand the hidden message in this video, you need to go back to the early 14th century. That’s when Dante Alighieri wrote his epic poem, La commedia, better known as The Divine Comedy. I won’t go too deep into the poem, but basically, it follows the travels of Dante’s journey through the afterlife. It consists of three phases:

  • Inferno – Dante’s exploration of Hell
  • Purgatorio – Dante’s exploration of Purgatory, a sort of limbo believed in by Catholics and some other Christians
  • Paradisio – Dante’s exploration of Heaven

The Link Between Cinema & The Divine Comedy

There is one huge connection between the Cinema music video and The Divine Comedy–the sign shown over the boys during the dance sequences. This Italian quote is taken directly from the introduction to the Divine Comedy before the Inferno sequence begins. Loosely translated, it means

Whatever of the holy realm I had the power to treasure in my memory, shall now be matter of my song.

Basically, Dante is saying that he is doing his best to put all of his memories down in his poem. I believe by choosing this poem, CIX is saying that they have done their best to bring the experiences of their lives and their many memories to their music.

Towards the end of the video, we see them write the word Stella on this VHS tape that contains the movie they made. Stella is from the Italian word for star. Its plural form is “Stell, and that is the word that Dante placed at the end of each section of The Divine Comedy as a conclusion. Here, it seems to suggest that this is the end of this story in CIX’s discography.

CIX’s Hello Series

If you’re new to CIX or need a refresher, here are the first three albums that the group repeleased:

HELLO Chapter 1. Hello, Stranger

Single: Movie Star

Secondary video: My New World

HELLO Chapter 2. Hello, Strange Place

Single: Numb

HELLO Chapter 3. Strange Time

Single: Jungle

But wait…what’s this in the background during the dance scenes?

That’s right, hidden on those movie posters is the name of all four of the group’s previous music videos, showing that we’re meant to be thinking of this song and the new album by extension in the context of the others.

As you can see, the previous three releases were all called Hello and then had a chapter title. There have been three chapters, just as there were three sections to Dante’s poem. If we consider The Divine Comedy, then we can analyze the albums as the following.

AlbumDante LinkMeaning in DanteTie Into CIX songs
Hello, StrangerInferno deals with morality and the consequences of human actionsMovie Star is about meeting an alluring woman and being seduced by her. My New World is about finding yourself in a bad place and trying to escape. Perhaps the way to this bad location was paved by giving into the temptation of the “Movie Star.”
Hello, Strange PlacePurgatoriodeals with being stuck in stasis while atoning for your sinsNumb describes trying to snap out of a trance, to stop standing still and instead move on and try to improve your circumstances. One line says “good and evil is cloudy,” clearly tying into the idea of the in-between of purgatory.
Hello, Strange TimeParadisiodeals with achieving happiness through intellect and theologyJungle definitely isn’t a holy song. It describes entering a passionate relationship with someone and becoming happily lost in them. But that does kind of sound like a form of paradise, doesn’t it?

Putting the New Album in Its Place

You would expect that since CIX has released three albums that the new one would be called something like Chapter 4, however, the title is:

Hello Chapter 0: Hello, Strange Dream

This suggests that the album does not come after number three but before the first album. And look at the second half of the title–“strange dream.” That ties right into the quote printed on the marquee. You can think of the fourth mini album as an introduction the rest. Cinema is telling us that we should view the other singles as a sequence of scenes, a trip through the “movie” Hello, which has now finally concluded.

So there you have it, my deep reading of CIX’s Cinema. Did you see anything I missed? What did you think of the video? Let me know in the comments.

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5 thoughts on “a closer kpop reading of cix’s cinema

  1. i decided to check cix out after reading this article!! i absolutely love the story (lyrically and visually) in the cinema video! [my new world also easily became one of my favorites after listening to more of their songs!]

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