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Exploring Depeche Mode’s Music Videos

Exploring Depeche Mode’s Music Videos

Much like GeoCities was to the internet, these early videos are similarly chaotic, incoherent and nonsensical.

Personal Jesus (1989) Directed by Anton Corbijn

Driving a Jeep and a horse, there are chickens running around a Mexican villa. Now the band looks like gay cowboys and they’re hanging out, playing guitars and looking at Mexican girls. There are spurs and agave plants, but the video’s a total non-sequitur.

Enjoy the Silence (1990) Directed by Anton Corbijn

Gahan, dressed as a king, ascends a hill with a folding chair in grainy color film. Then he’s at the beach with a folding chair. And then he’s on a mountaintop with ice and snow; the non-sequitur nature of this is continued with the last.

Policy of Truth (1990) Directed by Anton Corbijn

There is making out against walls and fences. There are lots and lots of hats in black-and-white NYC city scenes. Gahan is driving a 1961 Ford Edsel, just to be a pimp, and then things slowly transition to color. Not bad!

World in My Eyes (1990) Directed by Anton Corbijn

A cherry red late-1950s Chevy pulls up to a drive-in, where Gahan and a girl watch live videos of the band on stage. There are lots of projections behind live video of the band. A hand grabs the car at the end–it’s Gahan. What?

I Feel You (1993) Directed by Anton Corbijn

Oh shit! Gahan has long hair with a short-cropped beard and looks like Ringo Starr (not a good look); his striped suit dances underneath him and his new tattoos are revealed at the end of the video. We finally see a real drum set and instruments. A pretty girl in a cabin flirts with the camera here and there and slinks through sets suggestively.

Walking in My Shoes (1993) Directed by Anton Corbijn

Religious overtones dominate the characters in this, garbed in robes and medieval garb. Long-haired Gahan spends a lot of time in the foreground with a red light singing to the camera. The whole thing is fantastical and feels very much like a set, but who cares: this song kicks ass.

Condemnation (1993) Directed by Anton Corbijn

A sepia toned video has overtones of both a walking pilgrimage and scenes of love and kindness. Snogging and flowers are prominent in a ritual binding Gahan to a pretty female in a flower dress. The book spells out the motive: Condemned to Love.

One Caress (1993) Directed by Kevin Kerslake

Swamp life is featured prominently: snakes, bugs and spiders, before we see stark figures trouncing through leaves. Gore is singing in a black outfit, and there are additional medieval overtones by the middle of the video, including alms and hand-paddled ferries across the River Styx.

(Note about the director: Kerslake is an accomplished music video director, having worked with a lot of major-label bands, including Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Mr. Bungle, The Offspring and Faith No More.)

In Your Room (1994) Directed by Anton Corbijn

Overtones of seediness and bondage flash in and out with stark contrasting black-and-whites of California desert. A lightbulb hangs prominently in the foreground of much of the video, at times obfuscating important parts of the video. The room that this takes place in involves the band with a real drum set, piano, guitar and throne in a red-curtained room. Not as strong a video as the song, and the lightbulb concept makes no sense.

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