Music Video of the Day: Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order (1986, dir. Robert Longo)

From the book, I Want My MTV:

Michael Stipe: Robert Longo was one of the premier painters coming out of New York. We wanted to upset the visual language of videos, and that’s what we got with “The One I Love.” He was referencing Renaissance paintings, rather than Madonna. I saw the video he did for New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle”–he interrupts it about two-thirds of the way through with a scene out of a movie, where a woman stands up at a table and says, “I refuse to believe in reincarnation, because I will not come back as a bug or an insect,” a guy goes, “Well you’re a real up person,” and then it slam-cuts back into the song. I don’t think anyone had ever interrupted a song, cut to something, and then cut back to the song.

That’s quite the memory Stipe has. He still misquoted the video, but he was really close. That part actually goes like this:

“I don’t believe in reincarnation because I refuse to come back as a bug or as a rabbit.”

“You know, you’re a real ‘up’ person.”

I can’t find out who the third person in the room is, but the other two are well-known.

The first is Jodi Long. She’s been in a bunch stuff, and is still acting today. She was in Paul Schrader’s Patty Hearst (1988), which Lisa reviewed yesterday. I didn’t pick out this video to go with that review. I didn’t know till I went to write this that there was even a record of who these two people are.

The second is E. Max Frye. He has done numerous things over the years. You probably know him best as co-writing the screenplay for Foxcatcher (2014), which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Stipe says that this part is from a movie. From what I’ve read in other articles, that part was shot for this video. If this was a film, it is still undocumented on IMDb. The only time I can find on IMDb where Long and Frye worked together was on the film, Amos & Andrew (1993). That film was written and directed by Frye.

Nightflight’s profile of New Order videos had this to say about Bizarre Love Triangle:

For the video for “Bizarre Love Triangle,” released in November of 1986, New Order turned to New York-based director and visual artist Robert Longo, who claimed that the music of Joy Division and New Order were very influential on his work.

Longo would end up giving New Order a very experimental film as a promotional video, with fragmented vertiginous fast cuts, infused with color, which were then merged together visually competing ideas.

One of those ideas included men and women in business suits are seen falling through the air, something he’d based on his own set of lithographs called “Men in the Cities.”

Another of the other ideas Longo pursued was the use of visually appealing panels of Longo’s own art, which are then interrupted by a “bizarre love triangle,” a black and white melodrama scene with Asian actress Jodi Long and Oregon-based screenwriter and filmmaker E. Max Frye arguing emphatically about reincarnation.

They also go on to say that the shots of the band were filmed when they performed live “in the hills of Italy.”

Director Robert Longo appears to have made only one feature film. He directed Johnny Mnemonic (1995).

The video was produced by Michael Shamburg. Shamburg produced quite a few videos for New Order. He’s also has producer credits for a lot of well-known movies such as The Big Chill (1983), Reality Bites (1994), Gattaca (1997), Garden State (2004), and Django Unchained (2012).

According to Peter Hook of New Order in the book I Want My MTV:

We met Michael Shamburg when he filmed us playing in New York, and we gave him more or less complete artistic freedom to do our videos. Michael’s a big producer now–he did Pulp Fiction and Garden State–and he introduced us to interesting directors: Robert Longo, Kathryn Bigelow, Philippe Decouflé, Robert Frank, William Wegman, and Jonathan Demme.


One response to “Music Video of the Day: Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order (1986, dir. Robert Longo)

  1. Pingback: Music Video of the Day: Halloween by Glass Candy (2016, dir. René & Radka) | Through the Shattered Lens

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