U2 VidWorks – Original of the Species

This week, we are taking a look at the videos for what Bono has called “the best song on the album,” (“the album” being “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”). That song is “Original of the Species,” and the band made two videos for the song. The two videos are related in that they both contain some of the same footage, so we will be looking at both videos today. The first video is by director Catherine Owens, who is also known for her work on the U23D concert film. This video consists of lots of CGI, including a bald female head with a flowery vine growing out of its mouth, the same head with butterflies, and multiple motion-capture shots of the band members’ heads. In addition to this computer generated footage, there are further close-ups of the band and a pregnant female model in the background which were filmed by Mark Pellington. You might recognize that name as the one attached to the buffalo version of the “One” video. I have to say that despite being sixteen years old, the computer footage in this video holds up pretty well. It is not perfect, especially by today’s standards, but it is pretty darn good. This video works pretty well, in my opinion. There are some especially nice moments during the song’s climax. The footage gets the idea across that life is precious, especially children, and that each of us is responsible for out own share of beauty in the world.
The second of the two videos for “Original of the Species” consists solely of the Pellington footage of the band and the model from the first video, without any of the CGI. This video has multiple images of the band members’ heads layered on top of one another, and, to be honest, it looks a little bit messy. It does not sustain for the length of the video, and it is not nearly as interesting to view as the first video. In fact, I find the second video to be slightly frustrating to view, as the multiple images layered on top of each other make it hard to tell what is going on. The video is stressful to sit through, because I find that I spend the duration of the video wishing that the images would align. Unfortunately, when it is not stressing me out, the video is ultimately boring and unsatisfying. The band’s performance in this video is its lone saving grace, as they are their normal charismatic selves, particularly Bono, who is the clear star of the show. Maybe it is a case of the video being too “artsy,” as I find that those kinds of films and videos normally lose me. I’m certain that there are some fans who prefer the Pellington video to the joint effort, and I would be especially interested to see what those people like about the video. Next week, I will be reviewing another U2 video. I hope that you will join me then.

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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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