This week, we are discussing “All I Want Is You,” U2’s final video of the 1980s, as well as their last collaboration with Meiert Avis, the man who directed their very first music video. I have complained in the past that few of Avis’ videos for the band were about anything. Well, this one is definitely about something. I’m not sure what that something might be, but I have to give Avis, and the video itself, credit for trying.
The video for “All I Want Is You” is really like a miniature little film that tells a complete story with a beginning middle and end. The actors are all great, and the story is quite moving even if the ending is ambiguous. We start out with a circus man who is nursing a crush for his troupe’s trapeze artist. Throughout the first half of the video, we see him admiring her from a distance, and once or twice, she even returns his gaze. The problem is that her affections belong to another man, so the audience knows that she could never be with our protagonist. However, maybe it’s the way she looks at him or maybe it’s just the fact that hope really does spring eternal, but the next thing we see is the main character buying a ring. He returns to the circus and is approaching the beautiful woman to express his feelings and to give her the ring. She smiles at him as he is drawing nearer to her, and we can see his confidence growing. Maybe he has a chance, both we and he are thinking. Just then, the woman’s man appears and shoots a withering glare at our hero. For just a moment, the trapeze artist looks so miserable that I wonder if she really is unhappy with the fellow she is paired off with, but the scene ends before any further confrontation.
The next scene shows the protagonist climbing the rope ladder to the trapeze. He grabs hold and sways for a bit before letting go, ostensibly to commit suicide. We see through his eyes as the ground rushes up, then the camera moves forward, giving the impression that he has died and his spirit has left his body. Those standing by, observing, all have shocked looks on their faces, so maybe the idea here is that he has flown off bodily. Following this curious event, we see a coffin being carried, so I think that we are supposed to think that the protagonist has indeed died. We then see a group of mourners gathered around the coffin, which is in a hole in the ground. To our surprise, one of the mourners is the dude that we previously thought had died. He tosses the ring that he had bought for his love down into the dirt and walks away. Maybe the end scene is supposed to depict the hero as a ghost attending his own funeral? Why, then, did he throw the right that he bought for his beloved onto the casket? Whatever the case, part of the fun of this video is its debatable nature. I really like that we don’t know exactly what is going on. There are also a ton of beautiful cinematic shots that really elevate the video to another level. The members of U2 hardly appear at all in the video, which adds to the feeling that we are watching an artistic little movie instead of a promotional video. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this video, so please do comment below and let me know what you think about this puzzling but excellent short film!
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