Derek Jarman Creates Pioneering Music Videos for The Smiths, Marianne Faithfull & the Pet Shop Boys

Today we think of music videos, per­haps quaint­ly and not always cor­rect­ly, as the cra­dle of mod­ern Hol­ly­wood’s sense-over­load­ing, log­ic-sac­ri­fic­ing, teen-tar­get­ing, “quick-cut” style. But the medi­um, espe­cial­ly in its for­ma­tive years, offered a wide-open can­vas not just to hacks, but to auteurs as well. Case in point: the British direc­tor, artist, and writer Derek Jar­man, well known for fea­tures like Car­avag­gio, The Last of Eng­land, and Blue, but maybe even bet­ter-known, depend­ing on which cir­cles you run in, for his short films meant to pro­mote songs from a vari­ety of musi­cal-cul­tur­al fig­ures: The Smiths, Mar­i­anne Faith­full, the Pet Shop Boys, Pat­ti Smith, the Sex Pis­tols, Bryan Fer­ry. At the top of the post, we see Jar­man push­ing the bound­aries of the music video, inten­tion­al­ly or unin­ten­tion­al­ly, as ear­ly as 1979, with a 12-minute visu­al suite inter­pret­ing not one but three of Faith­ful­l’s songs.

Jar­man goes a minute longer just above for anoth­er, 1986 three-parter: The Smiths’ “The Queen is Dead,” “Pan­ic,” and “There is a Light that Nev­er Goes Out,” songs which allow him to ful­ly exer­cise his pen­chant for nos­tal­gia-sat­u­rat­ed styles of footage and acid crit­i­cism of the direc­tion of Eng­land. He would also col­lab­o­rate with his equal­ly satir­i­cal coun­try­men the Pet Shop Boys in the late 1980s and ear­ly 1990s on no few­er than four sep­a­rate videos, two of which, both from 1987, appear below: “Rent” and “It’s a Sin.” What’s more, he direct­ed their 1989 live tour, which fea­tured not only elab­o­rate cos­tumes but whole new short films pro­ject­ed onstage. With his com­bi­na­tion of the­atri­cal sense and inter­est in abstract visu­al expres­sion, Jar­man must have seemed a per­fect fit for such an aes­thet­i­cal­ly mind­ed out­fit as the Pet Shop Boys. Those qual­i­ties also placed him well to define the nature of the music video itself — in which, at its best, we can still detect his influ­ence today.


It’s a Sin

via Net­work Awe­some

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wittgen­stein: Watch Derek Jarman’s Trib­ute to the Philoso­pher, Fea­tur­ing Til­da Swin­ton (1993)

Watch Car­avag­gio, Derek Jarman’s Take on the Baroque Painter’s Life, Work & Roman­tic Com­pli­ca­tions (1986)

Jim Jarmusch’s Anti-MTV Music Videos for Talk­ing Heads, Neil Young, Tom Waits & Big Audio Dyna­mite

Tim Bur­ton Shoots Two Music Videos for The Killers

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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