Starting in the early 1980s, the power and importance of the music video cannot be overstated. MTV was a bona fide hit-maker, and it is hard to imagine a song doing well on the music charts without also having a popular music video. I say that to say this: I don’t know if U2 would have had the success they had, especially in America, without having their music videos aired on MTV. Granted, their music speaks for itself and the band was mostly known in the early days for their tremendous live shows, but the music video market opened up entirely new avenues for U2 that might have never been opened otherwise. One good example of this is the first U2 song to crack the top 40 on America’s Billboard charts, “Pride (In the Name of Love).” The song had three distinct music videos, plus an alternate version making for four separate videos for MTV to play, and the success of one of those videos, in particular, helped propel “Pride (In the Name of Love)” to the heights that it reached.
First up, we have the most commonly shown video for the song, which was directed by film-maker Donald Cammell. The main version of this video was the sepia-tone version, but there was also a full-color version shown occasionally. This video was shot in Dublin and features the band on-stage performing the song. There are lots of neat little touches in this video, such as the way the camera moves along the water at the beginning of the song, building momentum in sync with the rising introduction to the song itself, and the way the camera focuses on the microphone in Bono’s hand right before he stands up to start singing. There are passion and artistry aplenty to be found in this little film, and I quite like it, but the band apparently did not share that assessment. It seems that the members of U2 felt that the Donald Cammell video for “Pride (In the Name of Love)” was too “cinematic” and not “street” enough. I take that to mean that they wanted something grittier and less polished, so the band turned to photographer Anton Corbijn.
U2 was familiar with Corbijn from several photo shoots he had done of the band. I’m not sure who thought of using him, because apparently he was not keen to make music videos. I suppose that the members of U2 thought highly of the photographs he had taken of them, and they thought that his technique behind the camera might translate well to a music video. By all accounts, the video that Corbijn made, showing nothing but the faces of the band members as the song plays, is a disaster. For this reason, it was only infrequently shown on television and is quite rare today.
The final video for “Pride (In the Name of Love) is part of the Unforgettable Fire documentary which was released on VHS in 1984 and on DVD along with the super-deluxe package of The Unforgettable Fire album in 2009. This video was directed by Barry Devlin, longtime friend of the band, and, like the Cammell version, contains some pleasing moments. Particularly, there is a shot of Bono singing the chorus with all his heart, but there are some other moments captured during the recording of the album that are quite nice, as well. I suppose that this video is more “street,” but I don’t know if the band ever got what they wanted out of a video for this song. Nevertheless, “Pride (In the Name of Love)” was a success for U2, and the band began to capture the mainstream’s attention in America.