U2 VidWorks – If God Will Send His Angels

There are a handful of directors who have helmed several music videos for U2: Kevin Godley, Anton Corbijn, Meiert Avis, and a few more. Of all of these repeat contributors, though, I think that my favorite, and the most consistent, would have to be Phil Joanou. Mr. Joanou simply has a knack, a feel, for what makes a good U2 video. Due to the fact that he hasn’t made many music videos for other artists, I have to assume that he has worked with U2 so many times by choice, not just because he has had the jobs offered to him. Whatever the case, he seems to have a magic touch when it comes to U2 material, and today’s subject is no different.

The concept of the video is fairly simple. Bono is hanging out in a small diner/restaurant and different people come in and sit beside and across from him. They carry on conversations and then leave, making room for the next group. I have to admit that I did not feel so strongly about this video until I had watched the director’s commentary for it, but that segment gave me some real insight into the video that I would not have possessed otherwise. For instance, the video was filmed so that the people conversing around Bono would appear to be talking at a higher rate of speed than normal. In order to achieve that effect, the film was put through the projector at a slower speed. What’s really special, however, is that the audio that Bono was lip-syncing to was also being played at a slower speed so that Bono’s performance would appear to be regular speed while those around him were talking more rapidly than normal. Bono was emoting to and singing along with music that was being played so slowly as to be virtual gibberish. Every time I think about that, I am left with my jaw on the floor. Bono really gives his all for these videos, and so often the full extent of his performance is never known to the general public.

It is true that this video breaks several of my cardinal rules for U2 videos. For instance, the rest of the band hardly appears at all, making this mostly a solo Bono show. Knowing what we know, though, about Bono’s performance…I almost don’t miss the rest of the band members when I am watching this video. The other rule that this video breaks for me is that it really isn’t about anything. Somehow, though, the footage of the diner patrons and Bono’s performance sustains for long enough to hold my attention throughout the entire video, and I don’t feel like I am wasting my time watching. There is also an alternative cut for this video that contains some short footage from the film “City of Angels” interspersed with the diner footage. This was done as the song was released on single to promote that film. I do not recommend the alternate cut of the video at all…the film footage adds absolutely nothing and, in fact, takes away from the narrative of the rest of the video.

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broadsword

Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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