One of the problems with watching a lot of Duran Duran videos from the 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' era is that it starts to give you a slightly warped view of reality. But let me give you some advice, if your version of reality in any way shape or form resembles any part of the following video, call your brain Doctor at once. You really need help.
Simon Le Bon once said: (the album) "is an adventure story about a little commando team. 'The Seven' is for usthe five band members and the two managers and 'the Ragged Tiger' is success. Seven people running after success. It's ambition. That's what it's about."
So this is the level of pretension we are dealing with over the next couple of videos.
I'm not going to cover the version featured on the video EP Dancing on the Valentine, because I can't find a link to it on YouTube, but I wish I could, mainly because I owned it and it's the version I remember best. It also is the silliest, although, in fairness, they are all pretty silly, just that it's silly with a funky stencilled topping.
No, we are getting the standard one today. You lucky people.
Russell Mulcahy was slated to direct the "Union of the Snake" video, he conceived it to be the first of a trilogy involving a lost document and subterranean worlds.
Mulcahy was forced to pull out due to other commitments, so Simon Milne had a call from EMI asking if he would fly to Australia to direct the video that was scheduled to start shooting later that week.
Milne knew the band well as he had filmed them in concert and assisted Russell Mulcahy on their "Rio" video and so four days later was directing "Union of the Snake" (information from the always awesome Duran Wiki).
It's a shame the trilogy didn't come off, but it might go some way to explain some of the more weird and seemingly random imagery going on there.
We start with the rugged adventurers, Roger and John, climbing about on a sand dune. They look lost and confused. I'm not surprised, they had been on a six month post Rio bender and suddenly they were spat out onto a sand-dune in New South Wales. Poor confused pop stars. But they better watch out, because they are being stalked by an angry mutant parakeet. Presumably the same one from 'My Own Way', you remember, the one that so amused Nick when it crapped on his Jupiter 8? Well, it appears to have mutated into green beaked lizard man who just lives to dance along to Nick's Fairlight noodlings.
He seems to be sort of proto-vogueing, a green beaked Madonna, only with more humility.
Simon is leading the party, as he should be, and there's a dude on a horse, dressed like T.E. Laurance. Not sure why. Maybe he'll play a really big part later on in the video. That must be it, it's far to explicit and dramatic an image to just chuck in there and then do nothing with.
Disappointingly, there are no headbands in sight on the visible band members, but happily, John is returning to his roots and wearing a scarfy-thing in a manner for which it was presumably never intended. Nice, might try that at work tomorrow. Actually, looking at the day I've got ahead of me, I'd better not. I actually have to wear a suit. I have a proper job, you know.
Looks like Simon is leading from the back. Even better, my kind of leader, our Simon. Great micro-creveat, there Simon. What's that meant to do, exactly? It would seem to me at least, to be a singularly ineffectual piece of cervical attire.
Anyway, moving on. The boys find a knackered Holden Ute at the bottom of a sand dune. There appears to be exciting pipes sticking out of the dune, but as they investigate the ute, they come across a cadaver. John and Roger look shattered by the news. John is so shattered in fact that he removes the stiff from the passenger seat and has a sit down in the cab. I'm thinking that a body that's stuck in a ute, in a desert is going to smell pretty bloody awful, so I am a bit surprised John took this course of action.
Roger has a sit down outside.
Simon is in better shape. He builds a fire, makes a shelter and drags an unconscious Roger over to the makeshift camp he has created. He goes to check on John in the stinky cab, having not noticed that those exciting and mysterious pipes have started smoking away in an exciting and mysterious fashion.
OK. A rather over made up girl dressed as an old time Cinema usherette appears. A bit like that shop keeper in Mr. Benn, but with more pouting and sideways glances. And no fez. I like a fez. Fezzes are cool.
John must be deeply unconscious, otherwise he'd have probably tried to shag her. Anyway, Simon does not waste any time trying to work out what the hell she is doing there in the desert, nope. He follows her into a lift. In fairness, he does do a bit of his famous 'I'm confused' face that he learned at drama school. He went to drama school, you know.
Now, about this lift. It's a bit, well, wacky in that special Duran Duran way that we have come to love and respect. Well, Ok, not respect, but love at least.
It's a rather Heath-Robinson affair, made of riveted steel girders, heavy gauge steel mesh and other sturdy materials. Just as well, sitting on the top of the lift is the mutant parakeet boy. Contained within the lift are normal parakeets. It is possible that these are merely the larval stage of the proto-vogueing mutant parakeets. In fact, as there is no other plausible explanation for why the fuck they are being kept in a lift in a desert, lets roll with that thought, shall we?
We have now descended into the underworld. Oh, but what an underworld. It's filled with exciting pipes, chains, scaffolding and steam. And gyrating boys and girls, don't lets forget them. Simon and The Usherette descend into this realm of Cerberus, looking a bit puzzled but he's obviously not worried that he's left his two mates outside in the desert which is known to have killed at least one person in the recent past. I think Simon's been a bit of a bastard really.
A small boy hears the lift coming and opens up the doors to some form of inner sanctum, allowing Simon entrance. Only it's quite obvious that the doors do not form part of a contiguous security barrier, so Simon could just walk around the side of them if he so wished. Poor security design by whoever is in charge of access control for the underworld.
The interior designer did remember to put in a large stain glass window. Underground. Yes, an underground stained glass window. The bloke who put this together must have been, to coin a phrase, 'off his tits'.
The Usherette leads the way past many interesting, exotic and exciting things, including some artistically arranged umbrellas for some unfathomable reason. it is hard to imagine why one would need a arrangement of umbrellas, underground in a desert? This would appear to be incongruous at best and just plain foolish if you are not feeling charitable.
There are also some of the most thread-bare and unservicable tents I've ever seen with carefully coiffured children living in them. Nope, me neither. Your guess is as good as mine from this point onwards.
Next we see a man wearing white make up and a chequered t-shirt juggling dice. That must mean something, surely? That's far to specific an image not to be expanded on.
The boy leads the way past heavily made up men doing some form of dance. Some girls approach, they look a bit like sort of priestess sort of things, I suppose.
It's Nick! Reading a some parchments, by candlelight, in front of some tailor's dummies. He's talking to someone, but I'm not sure who it is or why he is surrounded by tailor's dummies. There are many, many things that I'm not sure about regarding this video. It's almost as though the director just strung a load of images together that look expensive and sort of interesting rather than trying for any form of narrative. But that can't be the case. Can it?
I know I've moaned about overly literal videos in the past, but there must be a balance, surely?
By the way, we are over two minutes into this video now and there is one member of the band we have yet to see. That's right, where's Andy hiding?
Nick notices Simon, but doesn't seem to want to engage with him for some reason. The little boy runs away from the sound of the syn-drums. Again, I know how he feels. Nick has found a map, and he's obviously excited about it in his way. I'm not the world's best lip reader, but I think he says "I've got it". I hope he is referring to the map and not a letter from his GP telling him some news from the Genitourinary clinic.
Simon and the Boy get in the lift with the larval parakeet monsters. Dice juggling monochrome man is so disappointed to see this, he stops juggling dice. Poor him.
Nick puts the parchment he was please to find inside a large tube, and he seals it with a big silver bauble.
It is possible that we see Andy here, fleetingly. A bloke in leather trousers, sunglasses and sporting a pony tail is climbing some scaffolding. Andy has always had challenging hair, but this is probably the most conventional hair do he's sported.
The Boy escapes the parakeet infested lift. The smell of bird shit and the probably even more overpowering scent of a Le Bon who's spent one too many nights in the desert proves too much for the little mite.
A heavily made up man looks on suspiciously, but at least he is wearing a head band, so we know we are on solid Duran Duran video ground.
Andy appears to be leading the Boy to safety, via the scaffolding. It's not a role that's going to tax him artistically, but I guess it's steady work. Heavily made up dancers hug each other with anticipation, or something.
So, the boy climbs on top of the lift, Simon is still inside with the parrots and a lady gyrates away in front of some parakeets. I'm wondering if there is a single music video in the history of the genre that makes less sense than this.
Oh Christ. I'm not sure there's a name for what the heavily made up men are doing now. It's sort of fighting and sort of just poncing about. You know those really shit films that youngsters like about gangs of youths settling their scores by out dancing each other. It's like that, there must be a word for it, apart from bilge.
They must have liked it though, they go on to do very similar looking dancy-fighting bilge throughout the Wild Boys video.
Hang on, Simon's on top of the lift now. He must have noticed that it was full of birds, but how did he get there? That lady isn't doing any dancy-fighting, but she is a top class pouter. She could probably rival Nick in the pouty face stakes. Crazy hair too, but not lovely sexy crazy hair like the lady in the video-singles version of the Lonely in Your Nightmare video, just plain old Medusa crazy.
More dancy-fighting by the denizens of the underworld. It looks like an out-take from Zoolander now. Simon escapes the madness by climbing up a transparent pipe. He reaches the outside, and hosanna! Glorious news! John and Roger are not dead!
They are probably a bit miffed that Simon abandoned them at night in the middle of a fucking desert though. If I was them, I'd drive off.
I think they are going to, as well. But wait, what's this? Purple fireworks and that dude on a horse again. Even Simon notices this rather strange turn of events. Powerful things, fireworks. They can do much more than just look pretty. They can spook horses for a start.
So, Simon gets up and goes towards the pretty fireworks. He's looking surprisingly dapper considering the night he's had. Quite fresh in fact.
Sadly, when he gets to the top of the sand dune, he falls over. Perhaps the fireworks are actually an evil nerve gas, sent by their arch enemies. Spandau Ballet.
Anyway, it's morning, all of a sudden, and Simon wakes up. John and Roger have followed my advice and buggered off with the ute (serves Le Bon right in my opinion), so what is our flaxen haired troubadour going to do now?
Well, first off, Simon has apparently found a massive black elephant's dildo.
Oh, wait. It's just that scrolly thing Nick was playing with earlier. Never mind. Ah! That man on a horse!
What! That's it? Simon gets on the back of the horse which very slowly walks off. What about the underworld? Andy? Nick? That little boy? What about the Usherette? What has the last four minutes and twenty seconds meant Simon? You are the lead singer, you are in charge. Explain yourself.
Well, Next week I'll look at New Moon on Monday.
I'm sure that'll be much more sensible.