The Late Movies: Mark Romanek's Music Videos

Ransom Riggs

A few weeks ago I did a post all about one of my favorite directors of film, commercial and music videos, Jonathan Glazer. This week I want to focus on another favorite, Mark Romanek. He's known mostly for his music video work, though he directed a feature or two -- anyone remember Robin Williams' creepy turn in One Hour Photo? His talent happened to line up at a time when the music industry was happy to pay millions for a single video and took chances on weird, risky ideas, and the result was some of the most visually powerful music videos ever created. These are my favorites.

His video for Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" has to be one of the best music videos ever -- and it's quiet and restrained and didn't cost a lot of money. It's just perfect.

Johnny Cash - Hurt from kakofoni on Vimeo.

I'm not a huge Linkin Park fan or anything, but Romanek's video for "Faint" is so simple and effective that I have to admire it. Then when the bridge comes around, he changes it up simply by turning the camera around to shoot from the other direction.

Another deceptively simple but really effective video idea, for Weezer's "El Scorcho." The lights are dim during the verses, bright during the choruses. Works like a charm!

Warning: boobies, S&M gear, darkness, and swearing! Also, brilliance. It's Romanek's in/famous video for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer."

Nine Inch Nails: Closer (Uncensored) (1994) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

Aliens and modernist architecture: the video for Sonic Youth's "Little Trouble Girl."

70's flava! Beck's "Devil's Haircut."

This is what $100,000 of fireworks looks like. The most over-the-top video ever, for Audioslave's "Cochise."

Nine Inch Nails' "The Perfect Drug" is a meh-tastic song, but the Edward Gorey-inspired video is worth checking out.