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Duran Duran

The definitive Duran Duran video collection on a 2-DVD set!

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English PCM Stereo
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 11/4/2003

Disc One
• Nine Alternate Videos
• Four Interview  Featurettes
• La Galerie de Duran
Disc Two
• Multi-Angle “Serious” Video
• Censored Version of “Come Undone”
• EPK for Liberty
• TV Commercial
• La Galerie de Duran
• DVD-ROM Materials

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Duran Duran: Greatest (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 13, 2004)

In 2003, Duran Duran marked their 25th anniversary with a grand attempt at a comeback. As I write this in December 2003, this enterprise seems to be off to a grand start. The band – with all five original members for the first time since 1985 – embarked on a highly successful concert tour in the fall that set the stage for bigger things to come. They played small venues that mostly sold out quickly. Since that meant lots of folks didn’t get in to see the boys, the buzz became hot and may lead to even greater demand in the future.

While Duran prep a new album, we got a reminder of their glory days with Greatest – The DVD, a two-disc collection of 21 music videos. (Actually, many more appear, but I’ll discuss those when I get to the supplements.) From 1981’s Duran Duran album, we get two songs: “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film”. 1982’s breakthrough hit Rio includes the title song, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Save a Prayer”, “The Chauffeur”. The 1983 single “Is There Something I Should Know?” pops up, as well as three tunes from that year’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger: “Union of the Snake”, “New Moon on Monday”, and “The Reflex”. (Some folks will associate “Something” with Duran Duran because some 1983 and later releases of the album added it, but it didn’t originally appear on that record.) A single also included on 1984’s live Arena, we find “Wild Boys”, and we also get “A View to a Kill”, the theme from the 1985 Bond flick.

That concludes DVD One. The second platter features the restaffed Duran; guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor split, which left singer Simon Le Bon, bassist Andy Taylor, and keyboardist Nick Rhodes along with various other added personnel. Their first album as a trio, 1986’s Notorious presents videos for the title tune and “Skin Trade”. From 1988’s not-too-successful Big Thing, we discover “I Don’t Want Your Love” and “All She Wants Is”. A single timed to come out with a 1989 hits collection, “Burning the Ground” appears, and we also get “Serious” from 1990’s flop Liberty. Formally entitled Duran Duran but better known as “The Wedding Album” to differentiate it from their debut, the band’s 1993 comeback release presents hits “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”. A generally ignored record, 1997’s Medazzaland gives us the DVD’s final video for “Electric Barbarella”.

To my surprise, the oldest videos held up well. “Planet Earth” offered a simple and fairly silly presentation, but somehow it works for the song. A notorious clip, we get the long, uncensored version of “Girls on Film”. This doesn’t exactly offer a subtle exploration of sexual issues, but it’s a creative piece that hasn’t aged too much over the last couple of decades. Also, it includes some very hot scenes, so what’s not to like? We get similar emphasis from “The Chauffeur”, the last Duran Duran video. The band doesn’t appear in it, as it basically offers a soft-core fantasy. It seems decent but a little dull. Still, it illustrates the song fairly well and also hasn’t suffered from age badly.

I can’t say the same for the following borderline campy videos from Rio. Two of them were shot on location in Sri Lanka, while the other was filmed in Rio. These mostly show the band as they romp around the exotic settings. Actually, “Wolf” attempts a plot in which Simon stalks a wicked woman while the band tries to find him, but the other two seem much more vague. They do work for the songs, but they feel much more firmly rooted in the era than the earlier clips and come across as moderately goofy these days.

Some sort of fascist condemnation – or something like that – “Is There Something I Should Know?” makes less sense than usual, but it remains fairly watchable. The first two Seven and the Ragged Tiger clips attempt formal plots. “Union of the Snake” features some sort of desert mission, but I can’t make out a real story. It comes across as fairly absurd, mostly due to the presence of a silly snake dude.

Seemingly set in a realm similar to World War II-era France, “New Moon on Monday” works better and seems more entertaining. Essentially the boys play freedom fighters who fight against Nazi-esque oppression. It still doesn’t make much sense, but it works better than “Union”.

A fairly simple mix of real and staged live performance, “The Reflex” was the first Duran song to make me like them, and I still think it’s my favorite of their videos. It makes their show look exciting and vibrant, and the video continues to entertain.

An ambitious piece, “The Wild Boys” features a Road Warrior feel. Like the others, it suffers from a story that fails to seem clear as well as a now-lame-but-cool-at-the-time puppet character. Still, it includes some vivid visuals like Le Bon on a windmill that make it interesting to watch. It also seems to foreshadow Waterworld, but don’t blame it for that.

”A View to a Kill” offers a rare video from a movie that works. It melds film clips with band footage on the Eiffel Tower in a clever way and creates an entertaining story. It’s one of the better videos in this collection.

That ends the footage with the five original members, as they pared to three for “Notorious”. It and “Skin Trade” don’t come across as very interesting. They’re little more than lip-synch sequences shot in a very stylized manner. They fail to involve the viewer.

We go to a courtroom setting for the vaguely intriguing “I Don’t Want Your Love”. It does little to alter the basic lip-synch format seen in the prior videos, but somehow it comes across as more intriguing and watchable. “All She Wants Is” presents an odd stop-motion effort that seems to use Duran mannequins. It’s weird but visually interesting but weird.

“Serious” gives us mostly band lip-synch with some circus allusions. It seems like one of the less ambitious and involving clips in this collection. “Burning the Ground” doesn’t improve matters. The song is just a dance mix compilation of Duran hits, and the video takes snippets of those. It works to promote the greatest hits album but not much more than that.

At least “Ordinary World” maintains a certain elegance and beauty to make it moderately interesting. We see very stylized lip-synch shots of the band while a babe in a hat that looks like a lampshade strolls through nature. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s fairly compelling.

Duran seem to enter “Janie’s Got a Gun” territory with “Come Undone”. The band’s lip-synch shots intercut with a chick escaping from chains while underwater and some dysfunctional family stuff. It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s visually stimulating. “Electric Barbarella” goes back to “Girls on Film” territory and offers some plain-old hot images. The boys buy a sexy robot and we see her in various situations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hearken back to the nudity of “Film”, but it’s an interesting video nonetheless.

Although a lot of my written reactions to the Duran videos are lackluster, I must admit I rather like this collection. On their own, each clip may not be a winner, but the whole thing comes together well. The general quality of the videos seems strong, and despite the mix of directors, albums, and styles, they mesh together well. The best videos are excellent, and even the worst ones remain reasonably entertaining and watchable. I can’t say that Greatest features any dogs, and most of the time the videos are solid. Call it a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” thing, as Greatest provides a generally fine collection of music videos.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

The videos of Duran Duran: Greatest mostly appear in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. “A View to a Kill” used a ratio of about 2.0:1, while “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Union of the Snake”, “I Don’t Want Your Love” and “Ordinary World” all came at about 1.78:1. Given that these videos cover a span of 16 years, one might expect widely varied picture quality, and that was what I found. However, within those restrictions, I felt the videos generally looked quite good.

For the most part, sharpness seemed adequate. Some of the clips came across as mildly soft or fuzzy, but these usually problems stemmed from some less-than-stellar material used for the originals. When the source was up to snuff - more prevalent during the newest videos, but never consistent - the shots seemed more crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented modest concerns, and I noticed light edge enhancement at times. Most of the clips didn’t suffer from notable source flaws, but grain could become a problem at times, particularly during “Is There Something I Should Know?” Occasional specks and marks appeared, and a few from the Rio era demonstrated some intrusive hairs.

Colors usually appeared fairly decent but erratic. The Rio videos were the worst culprits; despite their vibrant settings, they looked a bit murky and runny. Other videos came across more effectively, though, and the colors mostly seemed reasonably vivid and distinctive. Some videos showed dense and dull blacks, but these appeared solid for the most part, and shadows also were occasionally problematic but generally well rendered.

As I already alluded, the Rio clips demonstrated the biggest problems. Actually, that’s not totally true, as “Is There Something...” was probably the ugliest video in the batch. “Wild Boys” and “View to a Kill” also seemed subpar and demonstrated some murky and muddy visuals. However, the earliest videos actually looked surprisingly distinctive and clear, and the Seven and the Ragged Tiger clips improved considerably after the decline seen in the Rio bits. After the regression from “Wild Boys” and “View”, matters became more consistent; I encountered virtually no real issues from Notorious to date, except for the smattering of edge enhancement. Given my experiences with older music videos, I felt that the Duran clips generally looked solid.

Despite the mix of eras heard on these DVDs, the PCM stereo audio of Greatest seemed consistently positive. The stereo imaging always appeared well defined. The vocals remained nicely centered, while instruments popped up in logical places within the spectrum. All of these blended together well and accurately represented the original production.

The songs also sounded like the recordings. That might not sound like much of a feat, but I’ve heard enough music video collections with sound that fell below CD level to know that it isn’t a given. Greatest presents the music as original taped. The songs presented appropriately clean highs, with smooth and natural vocals. All elements sounded well reproduced, and the package enjoyed very nice bass response. Ultimately, the tunes seemed clear and accurate, and I felt pleased with their reproduction here.

Among the set’s extras, the highlights come from the mix of alternate videos. Somewhat annoyingly, like 2002’s Best of Bowie, all of these come as “hidden” clips. However, since the DVD case trumpets their existence, this makes them less “hidden”, but they often prove to be difficult to find. Because the set includes so many of these bits, I thought it’d grow tiresome for me to list directions to find each one. I got the list at www.dvdeastereggs.com, so please go there to find instructions.

Seven of the package’s 21 videos provide alternate versions, and a few of them include multiple editions. We get different videos for the following tracks: “Planet Earth”, “Girls on Film”, “Union of the Snake”, “New Moon on Monday”, “Wild Boys”, “Serious”, and “Come Undone”. “Planet Earth” is a totally different video than the one found in the main program. It shows the band at a poorly shot club performance, and it’s not a good video at all.

Two alternate “Girls On Film” videos appear. The first offers the same long, uncensored version found in the main program, but it differs in that it provides an amusing, tongue-in-cheek ending. We also get the short, censored take of “Film” that isn’t nearly as much fun as the full one.

For “Union of the Snake”, we get the “Dancing On the Valentine” version. Taken from the video EP of that name, it strongly resembles the cut found in the body of the DVD. Don’t expect any real changes here.

Four alternate versions of “New Moon On Monday” show up on the DVD. For some of these, the changes seem quite minor. Most shorten the clip seen in the main program and don’t make substantial variations. However, the final one offers the full 17-minute and 37-second “mini-movie” version of “Monday”. It’s not terribly good, but its story makes more sense than in the others, and it’s a cool addition.

We get another extended edition with the “Long Arena Version” of “Wild Boys”. It’s pretty much the same as the shorter one, but the seven-minute and 41-second take just offers more of that one’s chaos and silliness. I prefer the short version.

“Serious” presents the same video but offers additional angles. Don’t expect much from it. Much of the time, all three options display the same material. The occasional extra angles don’t make much of a difference, and this extra becomes somewhat dull.

For the final alternate video, we get a “censored” version of “Come Undone”. Don’t expect many changes here. Some tame footage of sex vanishes, but otherwise, this seems to be the same video.

More “hidden” material appears via some interview footage. To accompany Rio, we find a 145-second clip in which Simon discusses that then-upcoming album and some other forgettable factoids. We see lots of footage of the band on stage and elsewhere, though, so it becomes worth a look.

Another clip offers Simon and Nick while they chat about the recording of Seven and the Ragged Tiger. This four-and-a-half minute piece includes notes about the production, new instrumental styles, and particulars about creating “Union of the Snake”. Some odd and useless posed video of the band mars this program, but the material presented actually seems decent, as Nick dominates and gives us interesting insight.

Paul Gambaccini interviews Roger, Simon and Andy in connection to “Wild Boys”. Roger and Simon sit together, while he chats with Andy on his own. They go over working with producer Nile Rogers, their own production methods, shooting the video, and creating the song. It’s not a great clip, and much of the eight-minute and 53-second running time consists of the video, but it offers enough good information to merit a look.

We get more from the sessions with Gambaccini attached to “A View to a Kill”. In this 112-second piece, he chats with John and Andy separately. John tells how he approached Cubby Broccoli to get the gig, and Andy speculates on the song’s potential legacy. It’s a short and fun piece.

Over on DVD Two, we locate a 20-second TV ad for the 1993 Duran Duran album plus an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for the Liberty album. This 15-minute and 24-second featurette includes some stills of the band, a video for “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)”, shots from 1988 tour rehearsals, and comments from Nick, Simon, John, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, and drummer Sterling Campbell. They talk about creating “Violence”, how the new musicians joined the band, writing the album’s songs and recording them. They also seem confident of the album’s success, as they plan to make it a core part of their live repertoire along with its eventual successor and largely drop the older tracks; that plan didn’t quite work. It’s a decent piece highlighted by the “Violence” video.

La Galerie de Duran presents an annotated discography. It shows covers for albums and singles along with track listings for the records. You can also access the various videos here, and many of the Easter eggs pop up in this domain. It’s nothing special, but it can be interesting to see the picture sleeves for the singles.

Finally, DVD-ROM users will get access to a few extra features. We find a weblink to the band’s site plus an audio “Q&A session” with Le Bon and Rhodes. Taped in 1999, this covers 27 questions and fills about half an hour. The pair go over their career from the band’s inception through the “Electric Barbarella” video. They present lots of interesting notes and provide an informative walk through Duran-dom.

A “Photo Gallery” includes around 80 shots from all parts of Duran history. Mostly these offer publicity photos tied to the various albums. “Lyrics” gives us the words to the DVD’s 20 songs; “Burning the Ground” doesn’t count, since it just offers a montage of tracks. We can also download a screen saver and save any of six wallpaper photos.

Duran Duran helped pioneer music videos back in the Eighties, and Greatest provides a solid collection of their work. We get all the hits plus the misses in this career-spanning set. Not all of them work, but they generally seem entertaining and interesting. The DVD presents erratic but better than expected picture along with very good audio and a nice set of extras. I don’t like the “hidden video” format, but I can’t quibble with the content, as we find many intriguing alternate videos. Greatest lives up to its title with a fine selection of videos.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4545 Stars Number of Votes: 22
2 3:
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