U2’v promotional video for “Stay (Faraway, So Close) is a fun and interesting little movie, directed by the German Film-maker Wim Wenders. Wenders is a friend of the band’s who has worked with them on several projects, but of all the U2-related projects that he has directed, this video is probably my favorite. The video starts out with a short vignette depicting the members of U2 as angelic passengers on a bus in Berlin. There is an old man on the same bus who is fiddling with a small music box. When Edge takes the music box from the man and starts the crank, the song that the box plays becomes “Stay (Faraway, So Close).
Throughout the video, the members of U2 portray angels who are looking out for and helping the mortal denizens of Berlin. The concept of guardian angels in Berlin is taken from two other films by Wim Wenders, “Wings of Desire,” and the film that this song takes part of its title from, “Faraway, So Close.” In the music video, whenever the footage is in black and white, the angels are visible, but when the angel’s wing brushes the side of the screen and the visuals shift to being in color, we are then looking at the “real” world, where the angels cannot be seen.
One of the scenes that this video is most famous for is the scene where U2, as a group of angels, is helping a mortal band with a song. Larry is helping a young man with his drum part, Edge and Adam look on tenderly, almost like fathers, offering assistance to their mortal counterparts, and Bono gives his voice and lyrics to the young woman who is singing the song. Another well-known series of shots depicts the band members atop Berlin’s famous Victory Column, which is a gold statue of an angel that rests high above the city. Of course, the band members didn’t actually go to the top of this very tall monument. Instead, a model was used.
There is also a small sub-plot to the video where it seems that Bono decides to become mortal permanently. The shots at the end of the video depict Bono falling to Earth in the middle of traffic, landing hard on his side just as the final drum-beat lands, and the lyric states “an angel hits the ground.”
I do like this music video, not least because it is about something – the relationships that the angels have with their mortal charges, and how that relationship affects the party on both sides. Both the human and the angel are changed by the relationship. Wenders does a good job drawing out the subtleties of each character’s performance and bringing the concept to life. It also gives a new and different meaning to the song itself. When we imagine that it is an other-worldly angel singing “If I could stay,” it becomes a totally different song in our minds. I hope that you have gotten something out of reading this week’s installment of U2 VidWorks and that you will come back for future articles.
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