30 Seconds To Mars Get Conflicted In 'This Is War' Video

Long-delayed clip is heavy on special effects — and message.By James Montgomery
More than a year after they shot it — and nearly nine months since we asked "Whatever Happened to It?" — 30 Seconds to Mars premiered their "This Is War" video on Wednesday (April 6), a clip that's nearly as heavy on special effects as it is on message.

Opening with a quote from H.G. Wells ("If we don't end war, war will end us") and concluding with the computer-generated destruction of tanks, jets and all manner of implements of destruction — or, more specifically, their assemblage into something more, which may or may not be the group's Triad symbol — "War" is actually all about peace, a concept that doesn't seem to gibe with the fact that 30STM are dressed as U.S. soldiers, patrolling the desert in an armored Humvee.

Then again, with its quick-cut montages of various deities and despots, perhaps the video is less about the physical act of war as it is the men who wage it — or, alternately, rail against it. As Jared Leto told MTV News last year, the clip and the song are about "the inevitability of conflict, the blessing of conflict and what we can all learn from it." It seems that, no matter how inhumane the outcome, humankind is practically predestined for war — a fact that roughly 2,000 years of our existence has sadly proven time and time again.

So rather than just come right out and say that war is bad — since, you know, duh — 30 Seconds to Mars try their very best to explore the various facets of the concept: the men and women who lead us to conflict and those who attempt to halt that march. It's a tact they applied to the notion of sex in their "Hurricane" video, only here, they're much subtler (as subtle as a war video with flying tanks can be, of course). But since a complete investigation of humanity's foibles would take a lot longer to complete than the six minutes 30STM have to work with in "This Is War," they basically leave their findings up to the viewer.

When the pile of tanks and battleships at clip's end transforms into a massive pyramid, the meaning isn't readily apparent: There seems to be some sort of extraterrestrial force at play here, or perhaps it's just the overwhelming good nature of humankind willing the event to happen. The image is clearly meant to provoke, but does it also provoke thought? Ultimately, that's up to you. Though, it bears mention that much like conflict itself, thought is a decidedly human condition. And it's also more powerful than any bomb could ever be.