Sound And Vision: Martin Scorsese
In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we look at Robbie Robertson's Somewhere Down The Crazy River, directed by Martin Scorsese.
This is the big one, right? Martin Scorsese! He directed the music video of Michael Jackson's Bad after all, a music video that was so famous it was paid homage to at least twice. Once by Michael Jackson himself, in the music video for Badder, which was included in Moonwalker. And once by Weird Al Yankovich, who filmed his parody for the music video for Fat on the then still existing set of Moonwalker. Scorsese's shadow hung over the music video industry so largely, that the music video was considered a classic the day it came out, and opened the door for a lot of larger 'auteur directed' music videos that play more like short films.
But it is not the music video I'm gonna highlight. The name of the game for Sound and Vision, after all, for me, is partly the focus on forgotten music videos. Or music videos you might not know have been directed by famous people. Both things are true for the sole other music video Martin Scorsese has directed so far: Robbie Robertson's Somewhere Down The Crazy River.
Robbie Robertson, who was the lead singer of The Band, of course has a history with Martin Scorsese, through his direction of The Last Waltz. It is one of many instances in which Scorsese has directed concert films or documentaries about his favorite artists (The Rolling Stones: Shine a Light; Bob Dylan: No Direction Home) or genres (Martin Scorsese presents: The Blues). It is kind of a wonder, then, that Scorsese only directed two music videos in his lifetime thus far.
The music video for Somewhere Down the Crazy River is simple yet effective: it shows Robbie Robertson performing against a stark colorful backdrop that subtly changes color and lighting throughout. At the end there is a long steamy make out session with a love-interest. On paper, it is not much to fret about. In execution it's quite striking. Call me crazy, but I think it's a stronger set piece than Bad. More stripped down in story and execution, but all the more memorable for it. It might not have the reputation that Bad did, but it deserves a second watch.