This video has always been a bit of a hard one for me to swallow. I am talking, of course, of the second video for U2’s 1997 single “Staring at the Sun.” The video was directed by Morleigh Steinberg, who is now wife to The Edge, and I have to confess that I am a little bit at a loss for why this video was made, and why it is so…silly. As I write these words it occurs to me that the silliness of the video might be a bit of a ruse. The same kind of thing that U2 did when titling their darkest album Achtung Baby. As Bono said, it’s a con. “Staring at the Sun” is not a funny song…it has a serious message, and maybe this video is an attempt to draw attention away from the seriousness of that message and to enliven the proceedings a bit.
Watching the video, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot of “directing” for Morleigh to do. It feels like she simply told the Bono to ham things up for five minutes while the rest of the band just act naturally, and that was the video. There are several sequences shot outside of what looks like a shabby motel, a small restaurant and some other locations in Miami, and the same room as where the photos for the cover of the Discotheque single were shot, the room with the moon landscape on the wall. Bono sits around singing the song, then “dances’ like a drunk buffoon in several of these locations. I get that Bono loves playing the fool, and this video definitely gave him ample opportunity to do so. I suppose that this video could also be a reaction against those who claim that U2 is too serious all the time. Whatever the case, it is not my favorite video that U2 has made. It is not even my favorite video that the band made for this song!
With that said, there are still some nice moments in the video, such as toward the end when Bono has collapsed in a heap on the floor of the moonscape room, and there is a lamp above him that he turns to look at, then shields his eyes from. That is a brief, almost throw-away moment that ties in nicely with the song’s message. Adam and Larry also look particularly cool in this video, and female fans might enjoy the fact that Adam spends most of the video without a shirt on. I guess that there is something to be said for the fact that the band is at rest here, looking natural and relaxed, not posing for the camera (other than Bono) and not being rock stars, just being regular people in Miami. The band members at least seem to prefer this video to the Jake Scott version, so there must be something to it. I hope that some of you who are reading this and who might like Morleigh’s candid “home video” of U2 will comment below and give me some insight as to why some of you might prefer this video.
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