Sunday, March 04, 2007

David Fincher: Auspicious Beginnings

Since we've all been busy seeing or planning to see Zodiac this weekend (and since I forgot Friday's installment of 'song & dance'), let's take a brief jump back to where it all began: music videos. Yes, like Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze after him, director David Fincher (Se7en, Panic Room, etc...) first gained fame in the short musical form and was even rumored to be a Madonna boytoy directly before her Tony Ward phase.

Here are eight of Fincher's best and most famous music videos for your enjoyment/nostalgia...


Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted Snake" was one of many 80s videos that basically aped a famous movie sequence or movie for its entire running time... but at least Fincher chose great material to steal from (In this case All That Jazz's "Air Erotica" scene). This was one of his earliest videos. Madonna's "Bad Girl" was one of his last, arriving as it did in the year when Fincher finally brought his first feature Alien³ into theaters. Apparently he didn't harbor any grudges toward about being replaced by Madonna on what was supposed to be his first, Madonna's infamous documentary Truth or Dare (1991).



Madonna's "Express Yourself" and "Vogue". One of her greatest strengths as an artist has been knowing who to work with and when to work with them. She caught Fincher shortly after he'd proven his worth but before he was a huge name and together they made a series of videos that are basically as good as the form gets. He won the MTV "Best Director" prize for both of these and if I'm recalling correctly he beat himself (with other nominations) both times --like Steven Soderbergh's 2000 year at the Oscars, only doubled.



Rolling Stones "Love is Strong" and Billy Idol's "LA Woman" Fincher is a supreme visual stylist (as his subsequent filmography continued to prove). He didn't even need a great subject / face like Madonna herself to make his videos explode.



Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun" which starred the typically excellent Lesley Ann Warren in one of those music videos that's shot like a feature narrative. They're still making them that way (recently caught the new Justin Timberlake starring Scarlett Johansson. Pretty pretty Scarlett. Unfortunately generic song). And finally: No list of the greatest music videos of all time is complete without George Michael's "Freedom (90)" which was both a brilliant song and a shocking video for its day: not appearing in your own video !?! Considered very bad form at the time. It wasn't the first time ever but to my knowledge it was the first time that a mainstream successful multiplatinum artist risked it. No one ended up minding George's absence with a video this great. The video stars a whole slew of supermodels (including "the trinity" Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista). It's a gobsmackingly perfect time capsule of the early 90s in pop culture.

10 comments:

Stephen G said...

Funnily enough, George Michael also chose not to appear in the video immediately prior to Freedom 90, which was Praying for Time. But Freedom is a great video, I loved the lip-syncing models at the time. I had no idea it was a Fincher effort.

vince said...

I didn't know Freedom 90 was Fincher! He, IMO, is the greatest music director ever and worked in the medium when it was at its peak.

John P. said...

Why is Christopher Walken in the 'Bad Girl' video? Is it from a movie? What's going on?

Marius said...

I had no idea Fincher directed Freedom 90. Thanks! I love the song and the video.

vince said...

I think the Rolling Stones music video was the first video to actually convert me to liking the song.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I knew Fincher directed the Madonna clips (love 'Express Yourself' and it's Metropolisity and 'Oh Father' because it's just beautiful) but I too was unaware that he directed the "Freedom 90" clip. That is probably my very absolutely favourite music video of all time. It's stunning.

Also, why didn't I know about that Paula Abdul video? All That Jazz is my favourite movie ever so I sort of love it by default. That choreography is great too. Just like the movie.

Kamila said...

David Fincher is my favorite director and "Freedom 90" is one of the best music videos of all time. I love all those supermodels singing this amazing George Michael's song.

sollylevi said...

Hi, I am surprised to see the video clip that I produced in this article about David Fincher. My name is Solly Levi, VJSolly, and the clip LA Woman is my creation, with music by Billy Idol and the Doors, and video by Martin Solveig. Thanks. solly@vjloops.tv

Sniffyziff said...

Great Fincher tribute! Thanks Nathaniel for putting it together. If anyone cares for some more, also check this out:
fincherfanatic.blogspot.com

Dr. Evil said...

Here's the correct link to David Fincher music video for LA WOMAN

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og7h6wx0PWU

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