Enjoy The Silence: that iconic video that Depeche Mode hated

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In 1990 Depeche Mode released Violator, the album that definitively consecrated them to international success. The record contained some of the group’s most celebrated songs, such as World In My Eyes, Policy Of Truth, Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence.

The latter was used as the second single of the album and the clip was given to Dutch director Anton Corbijn, who immediately proposed his vision on how to transport Enjoy The Silence on video. The idea, as we now know, was to film Dave Gahan dressed as a Little Prince, with crown and cloak, as he passes through desolate landscapes, dragging a deckchair behind him.

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The disarming simplicity of the video wanted to send the message that, as rich and powerful as you may be, the search for inner peace and silence is always a valid challenge, even for a king. At the beginning the band didn’t understand the idea proposed by Corbijn, who tried several times to explain better what he wanted to get, without being able to completely convince Gahan and his companions. The group wanted a more traditional video, adapted to their image, and they were afraid to make a mistake at a crucial moment in their career.

There was also a second video, made for a TV promo, and we missed the idea that we wanted to follow the official video. That video was shot on one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Soon thereafter, however, they found the agreement and Depeche Mode tried to follow Anton Corbijn’s directions. Not without some difficulty.

The locations were planned in Scotland, Portugal and the Swiss Alps, places where the power of nature and the insignificant human presence was visible. In Switzerland ithey went at 3000 meters height to find the snow and Gahan (who was forced to impersonate the king with the deck) repeatedly showed his impatience for how he wanted to shoot the video and for the objective difficulties about walking with a cape in half meter snow.

Dave Gahan later said he “felt like an idiot” and made clear that he was not into Corbijn’s idea at all, even refusing to shoot some scene and forcing production to replace him in some cases. In the end, not only did Corbijn manage to film the video as he imagined it, but he also won the challenge of time, producing a video that soon became one of their most famous images.

Enjoy The Silence became one of the milestones of Depeche Mode career, allowing Violator to win the market and become one of their best-selling albums. The song, which originally was supposed to be a slow and dark ballad, was converted into a pulsating rhythm, which transformed it into the hit we know and allowed it to enter the Top Ten in both British and US charts. The success of the song was also thanks to Corbijn’s video, which captured the general attention for its originality and for that basic idea that a king, in the end of the day, is just someone who looks for a place where to sit and enjoy the view.

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Luca Divelti writes stories of music, cinema and TV on Rock’n’Blog and Auralcrave. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Telegram.

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