Directed by the late Heath Ledger, Modest Mouse's highly anticipated video for "King Rat" was released Tuesday. The animated look at a world where whales hunt humans is at once entertaining, haunting and mesmerizing, although Ledger tragically died before he could see the final version. All the proceeds from the first month's iTunes downloads will benefit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a marine-life protection group made famous by its skirmishes with Japanese whaling ships.
Modest Mouse issued a press release on their MySpace page which read, in part:
In January of 2007, while visiting his homeland of Australia, Heath Ledger presented Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse with an idea to direct a video for their yet-to-be-released song "King Rat". Heath’s vision, brave and unapologetic in its nature, would marry his love of bold and original music with his impassioned stance against the illegal commercial whale hunts taking place on the coast of Australia each year. Always one to operate from his heart and take a stand for what he cared deeply about, Heath's intention was to raise awareness on modern whaling practices through a potent visual piece without having to say a word. It was his way to let the story, in its candid reversal, speak for itself.
The video was fully conceived down to the last detail but unfinished when Heath passed away in January of 2008. In the interest of fully realizing Heath’s final work as a visual artist, THE MASSES (a film and music company which Heath was a partner in) finished the video in his honor, with the support and advocacy of Isaac Brock.