Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome, c’mon in…
It’s time. Yes, I insist. We’ve put it off for long enough, we can put it off no longer.
It is time for The Wild Boys.
Yes, I insist.
Duran Duran’s twelfth single, released back in the early autumn of 1984, was obne of their biggest world-wide hits. Now, here’s a bit of information for you. Russell Mulcahy, director of many of the better videos, wanted to do a full length feature film based on the William Burroughs novel, The Wild Boys, a book of the dead. Which sounds fair enough until you actually read the book and realize two things.
- It’s not that dissimilar to the contemporaneous Mad Max films.
- It’s unfilmable.
- It’s not that good.
I know I’ve just listed three things there, but I think the third one is worth making. It really isn’t very good, it’s OK. If you like that sort of thing, which I do, but just not enough to really like this sort of thing, if that makes sense.
Moving on. Russell wanted to make a feature film, he suggested that Duran Duran might like to do a soundtrack, much like he did with Queen in his 1985 cult feature Highlander.
n.b. There is only one Highlander film, in much the same way there is only one Matrix film and 2.3 Star Wars films. That is all there is and you’re not going to convince me otherwise.
So, the band started writing and came up with a pretty good song, by all accounts. Mulcahy planned the video, which was meant to be a sort of teaser for the feature film he intended to make.
It was filmed at Pinewood on the 007 sound stage at a cost of over $1,000,000. A staggering amount of money compared to what they spent on the Sri-Lanka/Antigua videos. Was it worth it? Well, the feature never got made and it must be doubtful that they made their money back on the video, but yes, yes it was worth it.
Today we are looking at the single version of the video, not the one that appears in Arena, an Absurd Notion. I will do Arena, but I really need to psych myself up for actually watching it.
Anyway, we begin.
The scene is a dusty, bluish grey-scale space with 50 or so desks, arranged in an off-set grid pattern. Six people are sitting in apparently random positions as the thumping drum beat starts. This gets them all riled up and they start chucking things about in the first 4 seconds of the video.
It is probably a circus school with a poor disciplinary record, judging by the willful and wanton destruction of property and the fire-breathing. Yes, fire-breathing. What of it? You are telling me you never breathed fire in a dull history lesson? No?
By the way, I used to upset my headmaster (Mr Christopher W Redwood, G.T.C.L.. L.R.A.M.) by reading the communist party manifesto in English lessons, he objected to my politics and so to mollify him I took to reading Mein Kampf. He never really understood my sense of humour.
Well, here comes someone in a big cape which is being blown artistically to the left of the screen by a fortuitous gale. As he walks closer, we get to see tantalizing glimpses of scaffolding. If scaffolding can ever really be described as tantalizing. I think, perhaps, it cannot.
Mind you, he can breath fire too, monochrome fire, ‘tis true, but fire none the less. We are in for a treat, ladies and gentlemen, a treat. We are only a headband away from Duran Duran perfection; I can feel it in my waters. All we've got to do is work out what is going on. Easy, we are experts at this game now, aren't we?
OK, there’s a weird robotic head thing. It is breathing fire at a television screen that apparently has a cameo appearance by Chef/Actress/Musician/UKIP politician (in no particular order) Rusty Lee. Is it really her? It really does look like her, but my on-line searches have, alas, come up with nowt.
As an aside, a million dollar budget(best Doctor Evil impersonations please) and that crappy nodding head is the best they could do? REALLY? I reckon at least $999,000 must have been spent on ‘special powdered supplies’ for the cast and crew. The must have been snorting something to think that the nodding rubber head was fit for purpose.
While we’re at it, what’s with the fire-breathing? What the hell has that got to do with anything? I’m only 24 seconds in and already I’m baffled.
Someone is approaching, flexing his be-gloved hand, although the glove is missing some fingers and would not pass BS EN 374 (Standard for Safety Gloves) so I hope he’s not going to do any work with chemicals.
Rubber head is nodding away to his TV screen. Ah... I've got it! This entire video is a homage to the Channel Four programme Count Down. You can see the clock ticking away whilst rubber head does a more than passable impersonation of the late and great Richard Whiteley.
Rusty Lee is obviously meant to be Carol and the painted man with Animal stenciled across his heart is the cute one from dictionary corner. Simon and John are seen in their Reflex era garments miming away to the song in front of a curtain onscreen. They are the contestants. Now I get it. But they haven’t shown us what the letters are yet?
Well, there’s all sorts of shenanigans going on in the countdown studio today. Scaffolding, painted men and ladies, fire-breathers and that man with a cloak. No wonder Rubber Richard Whiteley is looking so confused. I’m sure it will all become clear when we can see what the letters were.
We are getting a few shots of the contestants, John, Andy and Simon but there’s no real way of telling what they had scored as yet. We have started a very long tracking shot towards, wait for it, scaffolding!
If this is the dystopian future of mankind, it would appear that the business to get into is that of scaffolding, as it appears to be the primary method of constructing everything in this sore, afraid, new world. Well, scaffolding, beautifully torn curtains and metal pyramids.
Holy crap on a cracker!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, colour has arrived, along with painted acrobats and flame throwers. Does this mean we are going to get a shed-load of Dance-Fighting? I do hope so!
So, it’s time to see what words the contestants have come up with. Rubber Richard Whiteley obviously is a bit cross in this extreme edition of the sleepy afternoon game show for the venerable. He’s deployed his minions and tied Simon to a windmill.
- It’s indoors. There is less likely to be wind indoors.
- It dips the tip of each blade (or sail) into the water during its rotation. This increases resistance and lowers its efficiency.
- It is not connected to any visible milling apparatus.
- It’s got a Le Bon strapped to it.
Even Windy Miller, the perennially pissed miller of Camberwick Green would have balked at this, although Rod Hull and Emu may have stolen some of these ideas for their Pink Windmill show.
Simon is being tortured for not really coming up with any good words, his head is being dipped in the water frequently and he is singing in defiance of Rubber Richard Whiteley’s attempts to defeat his indomitable spirit. But it’s indomitable, so he won’t be able to.
Aside: Rumour has it that Simon nearly drowned filming this. Nonsense, you can see he’d only have to lift his head slightly to avoid getting wet at all.
Although can you imagine how many takes they insisted on doing? I bet it was more than a few. "Sorry Simon, love, we need to get that again, the camera didn't quite get the bit where you head was completely submerged in the brackish water..."
Simon has both his arms free, which begs the question: Why doesn’t he untie himself instead of waving his arms about singing about how bloody great it is to be wild? Answer – erm…
I do like the bit where the camera’s rotation is synchronized with the windmill’s though. I really, really like that shot.
It’s a bit brilliant.
Whiteley’s strange painted, horned minions are approaching. Nick, who was obviously in Extreme Dictionary Corner is imprisoned in a cage surrounded by his books and computer type stuff. Nick is in bejeweled Leather. Why doesn’t this surprise us? He’s trying to work out whether Simon’s word is valid. I don’t know, but I bet Simon’s word was ‘PIES’. A minion passes him a small pie and backs away. Nick looks impressed or constipated.
There’s a lot of Whiteley’s minions giving Simon a complicated hand-jive representation of the internationally recognized symbol for ‘Up-Yours’. One is doing a passable impression of Mick Jagger doing the funky chicken (I believe that’s effectively the limit of Jagger’s talents anyway).
Let’s see how John got on. He is strapped to an automobile and it seems he came up with two words, ‘CARS’ and ‘GIRLS’. Both are acceptable but not high scoring. Minions bounce over Nick’s head as he struggles to keep score.
A Hang gliding minion who looks a lot like Martin Gore from Depeche Mode whizzes about the place as the dance fighting truly kicks off. Dance-fighting is one of my favourite things. It’s brilliantly crap and a completely ineffectual way to settle disputes of any nature unless you are deciding a 'who does the best jazz-hands' contest between Bruce Forsyth and John Barrowman.
The minions are becoming increasingly agitated as it turns out ‘PIES’ was not a winning score for the Le Bonster. Off the Windmill and into the jaws of the sea-monster for you then Simon.
What does the sea monster signify? It signifies fame, man... Yeah, like fame is like totally the monster, right... Heavy...
Andy Taylor is strapped to a busty figurehead. Frustrated at not even being allowed to run about on the scaffolding, he is reduced to swatting at passing minions with a guitar.
Simon escapes from the sea monster thing and fends off the minions with a clenched fist.
The fight dancing has stopped, it has been replaced by formation dancing. Exciting.
Simon reaches out the hand of friendship to one of Whiteley’s minions and the boys are treated to a good, old fashioned tickertape parade to celebrate John’s victory over Simon in the futuristic extreme Count Down competition. John wins the day and the Count Down teapot with ‘GIRLS’, edging out Simon’s ‘PIES’.
Given that we can assert that the series of letters provided at the start of the game must have been PESGCRLIA, they could have done better with REPLICA GLACIERS or CALIPERS.
So what can we learn from this?
Art wins again.