Today, I shall continue with my series of philosophical critiques of Duran Duran music videos from the early 1980s with their very first one. Planet Earth.
Course you do.
Now, I know that on the face of it, this video isn't as funny as "A View to a Kill" or as ridiculous as "Girls on Film", but bare with me, it has it's golden moments. I'm trying not to do all the really wacky ones in one go, but there is still plenty to say about their first outing into melding the world of video with the world of popular music.
At this stage, they still hadn't fully succumbed to the Duran Duran paradox (in 1982, they wanted to be a serious rock band, but all their fans were 13, by 2002 they were a serious rock group, but they had 13 fans...)
Predictably, there are a couple of versions of this video, but I'm dealing with the more common Russell Mulcahy one here.
Let's drop into wikipedia for a moment so I can tell you a bit about Russell.
"Mulcahy made successful music videos for several noted British pop acts—his early UK credits included XTC's "Making Plans For Nigel" (1979), The Vapors' hit "Turning Japanese" and his landmark video for The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" (1979) which became the first music video played on MTV in 1981.
By the mid-1980s Mulcahy was one of the most sought-after video makers in the world, directing videos for some of the most successful pop-rock acts of the period including The Human League, The Tubes, Elton John, Ultravox, most of the major hits of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Kim Carnes, Bonnie Tyler, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, The Motels, Supertramp and The Rolling Stones."
This must have been one of his more budget ones.
We open with a shirtless Roger Taylor. Roger is the drummer, but is not the same Roger Taylor who is the drummer in Queen. That is an entirely different Roger Taylor.
They look different, d'you see?
Now Roger seems to have become trapped in some form of cloudy-icy vortex thing. Not sure why, I'll make a note to answer that question later.
He's not looking that happy to be there though, although perhaps he's just practicing being the moody silent one before he can go off and start that Paris based catering/spy outfit he's got going on in the View to a Kill video.
Ah well, moving on.
We go to an impressive (!) wide shot of the band, seemingly performing in a big iceberg, possibly the one that sank the Titanic, but that's not made clear. Actually it could be Superman's Fortress of Solitude, Kerry Katona's fridge or Pete Doherty's para-nasal sinuses, again, it's not made clear and it probably isn't important.
We get close-in shots of all the band in turn, starting with Simon Le Bon.
Now I'm not the worlds most fashionable bloke. I'm writing a blog about Duran Duran videos, for a start (it worries me how many people read this, it really does), and I'm wearing a tee-shirt baring the image of Sweep (from Sooty and) dressed as Che Guevara, but even I can see that Simon's outfit is a bit odd.
He has a frilly shirt (I approve), but not the frilliest, no siree-bob! No way near the frilliest. He also is wearing fucking massive jodphurs. Tied with a scarfy thing, so awesomeness abounds here, right down to that ropey thing round his neck. No head-bands though, which is a shame. I always feel slightly cheated when I watch a Duran Duran video and there's no headbands.
Roger is playing the drums, having presumably teleported from the cloudy-vortexy place - remember Roger, with great power comes great responsibility, only use your magical powers of instantaneous relocation for good.
Andy is blonde and wearing red trousers and a very very frilly shirt. He probably looks at his best in this video, platinum blonde, angry, pale and chiselled. Short though, but that's not his fault. Out of all of them, he looks like the musician, however not a musician who can play the accordion. I'm beginning to seriously doubt his abilities in this regard.
Nick is playing a nice Prophet 5 keyboard.
He is also wearing a shirt which is the frilliest shirt ever recorded in human history. It's the apex, the acme the very Taj Mahal of frills. It is immensely silly. But then the camera tracks up and you get to see his hair. Hmmmm... Again, I don't have much scope to criticize haircuts, but this one is special.
His hair is sort of pinkish-gingery blonde and would appear to have been styled by means of a van de graff generator. Then crimped. Really, Nick. Really.
Anyway, next we get Simon lying on his side, singing, showing his armpits and having strange stencilly type shapes superimposed over the picture for some reason.
Then we get Simon being gripped by a worried looking blonde lady from 1943. Not sure why, We'll come back to that one later as well.
After some band montages, we go back to Simon, supine, hands raised above his head and apparently repelling water using the power of mind bullets (that's telekinesis to you, chummy). Neat trick, once again proving that Duran Duran don't need none of your fancy physics, Brian Cox.
Mind you, if Simon can repel water in such an efficient manner, it makes you wonder why he made such a fuss when he overturned that yacht of his.
For some reason, again, I'm not sure why, you get shots directly up Roger's nose and Simon descending into a ring of fire.
You also get occasional shots of him covering his ears and screaming, which is odd becasue Kajagoogoo were a year or two off their first single release.
Whilst all this is going on, you get little factoids running across the bottom of the screen. Not shit factoids like Steve Wright does on his afternoon show on Radio 2. Proper interesting factoids. Why are they factoids? Aren't they just facts? I'm never using the word factoids again and I apologise for bringing it up. I won't edit it out of this post thought, just to prove I'm still keeping it real. Word. Innit blood. (I'm 43).
More band montage, but with numbers superimposed on the screen and mask lighting like Morticia Addams in Addams Family Values. Great film that. The production designer was Ken Adam who did the early Bonds. German fellow, but flew for the RAF in the Second World War. Brave man, would have been executed as a traitor if he'd been shot down. Sorry to digress, but Ken Adam is an amazing man.
Even John seems bewildered, he notices the two goths at one point and turns to view the spectacle. He shouldn't have turned his back though, he's missing more facts. Facts such as “1,003.5 MEN ON EARTH FOR EVERY 1,000 WOMEN,” and “THE OLDEST KNOWN SONG IS THE SHADUF CHANT.”
What is the 'Shaduf Chant'? Back to wikipedia...
"The shaduf consists of an upright frame on which is suspended a long pole or branch, at a distance of about one-fifth of its length from one end. At the long end of this pole hangs a bucket, skin bag, or bitumen-coated reed basket. The bucket can be made in many different styles, sometimes having an uneven base or a part at the top of the skin that can be untied. This allows the water to be immediately distributed rather than manually emptied. while the short end carries a weight (clay, stone, or similar) which serves as the counterpoise of a lever. When correctly balanced, the counterweight will support a half-filled bucket, so some effort is used to pull an empty bucket down to the water, but only the same effort is needed to lift a full bucket.With an almost effortless swinging and lifting motion, the waterproof vessel is used to scoop up and carry water from one body of water (typically, a river or pond) to another. At the end of each movement, the water is emptied out into runnels that convey the water along irrigation ditches in the required direction."
Anyway, by the end of the video, even Simon seems to have had enough and leaps from the white stagey plinthy ice platform thing into the chasm below. Or into Kerry Katona's salad compartment (not a euphemism), or Pete Doherty's left nostril. Not sure which.
Anyway, a solid first video outing for the boys, with a taster for the insanity to come.
Share and Enjoy.
Unanswered questions arising from today's blog:
Q: Why has Roger become trapped in some form of cloudy-icy vortex thing?
A: No idea.
Q: Why is Simon being gripped by a worried looking blonde lady from 1943?
A: No idea.
Q: What the hell are those goths doing?
A: No idea.