The collaboration between Anton Corbijn and Depeche mode is one of the most fortunate in the history of music: the dutch director signed the vast majority of Depeche’s videoclips, defining in the years their public image with his exquisite talent in matching images with music. As a matter of facts, his experience is dcumented: he’s the director of Control, the widely appreciated movie upon Ian Curtis’ life, and he has a long history of successful videoclips, from Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box on). But what he did in all the videos directed for Depeche Mode (more than 20 so far) is different: he managed to capture and enhance their mysterious side, often hiding the colors in the black and white, to highlight the temporality of the image.
He covered their eyes with sunglasses and various tricks, he played with their faces in the most varied ways (even painting them as circus performers in Halo). He gave a touch of immortality to songs and frames that represented precise musical eras. He is the first author of Depeche Mode’s public success and it is time to celebrate it, reviewing the ten most significant videos of their fruitful collaboration.
Never Let Me Down Again
1987, the second single from Music For The Masses, the album that gave them global success. The first, elusive color frame immediately leaves for a full black and white, Dave Gahan is heartbroken, signed by friendship and betrayals, the shadow in the grain is Martin (or a scarecrow). But the lantern in his hand at the end of the video gives hope.
I Feel You
1993, the album is Songs of Faith and Devotion and it’s time to show an erotic touch. The guitar is rough and Lysette Anthony is provocative, in a black bra that feels like sin.
It’s No Good
1997, Ultra, the disc of rebirth after the crisis coincided with the Devotional tour. It’s No Good shows Depeche Mode as a low level band, sparkling clothes and bad taste, a caricature of what they never were. In the meanwhile, the song clarifies the meaning of love according to them.
Behind The Wheel
Dave Gahan with brushed hair and black glasses, throwing his crutches away and letting the girl lead. Add to that the wheel that runs behind him and the megaphones-symbol of Music for The Masses represented as dark shadows on the night, and you have Depeche Mode’s official image in 1987.
Walking In My Shoes
Again Songs of Faith and Devotion, Depeche Mode choose to incarnate sin and Dave Gahan is a red devil face, out of focus, to represent all temptations that revolve around him. A video that is almost esoteric and lyrics full of guilt, for the most cursed image ever adopted by the band.
Enjoy The Silence
The famous video with Dave Gahan-Little Prince, in regal clothes, dominating the world from boundless landscapes in a folding chair. And the low quality of the images is not a coincidence. It will be one of the most famous videos of 90s. Curious fact: Depeche Mode hated that idea and Anton Corbijn needed his best effort to convince them.
Barrel Of A Gun
Is it a coincidence that this is the video where Depeche Mode are lost, out of control, forced to put the pieces back together. Wandering through the streets of the city with their eyes closed and the pupils painted on their eyelids. It was Ultra‘s first single and reconstruction had begun.
The most materialistic phase of Depeche Mode’s career is represented by this sepia-tinted video, with the band inside a ranch that looks so much like a provocative brothel. Reach out and touch faith will be the mantra of their 90s.
1987, Strangelove is almost a fashion video, singing devotion to love and to the female figure, who is in fact the first protagonist. The rest is a game of lights and shadows.
2005, Playing The Angel, a restored dark energy in their maturity and a video that draws the decay of life flowing in front of Dave Gahan’s wealthy eyes, while taking off his faith ring and kissing his lover. Challenge or sense of danger?