On November 11 1989, the music video for Oh Father premiered on MTV in the US. Filmed at Culver Studios, California in late October, 1989 by director David Fincher, the black & white clip drew cinematic influence from the 1941 Orson Welles film, Citizen Kane. Its narrative expanded on darker elements from Madonna’s life – focusing on the death of her mother, her relationship with her father and the recurring effects of childhood trauma in her adult life. The clip’s icily detached symbolism and heavy subject matter are counter-balanced by overarching themes of forgiveness and inner-strength.
In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Fincher recalled:
“I had kinda talked Madonna into releasing Oh Father as a single and we did this video and were very happy with the video – but nobody ever saw it because the song wasn’t a hit.”
Although the video was put into rotation on MTV, the channel had requested that Madonna remove a scene that displayed a close-up of the deceased mother’s lips sewn shut – a request that she refused to consider. Compounded by a tepid response to the song from radio, where its bleak overtones clashed with playlists of the day, the single stalled at number twenty in the US – her lowest peak on the Hot 100 at the time (excluding her first two singles, neither of which broke into the Hot 100). In Canada the video was put into heavy rotation and the release fared slightly better on the charts, peaking at number fourteen.
Despite its relative lack of commercial appeal, the song and video are frequently cited as a creative triumph for Madonna by fans and critics alike.
Filmed in Venice, Italy, the video marked Madonna’s second collaboration with director Mary Lambert. Lambert later recalled of the shoot:
“For Like a Virgin I said ‘Lets do it in Venice!’ The idea of Madonna singing in a gondola was the most outrageous thing I could think of. And Madonna dug it, because she has the whole thing with the Catholic Church and her Italian heritage. It turned into a huge party.”
On November 9 1990, Madonna began filming the Justify My Love video at the Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris, France, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.
During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) segment in September 2013, Madonna told her fans that she considers Justify My Love to be her favourite Madonna music video.
Is Justify My Love the steamiest music video that you’ve ever seen?
On October 10 2002, the music video for Die Another Day premiered on MTV. Helmed by Swedish directing team Traktor, the action-packed short for Madonna’s James Bond theme remains the second most expensive music video of all-time, with production costs surpassing the six-million dollar mark. The clip made its debut as part of an episode of MTV’s Making The Video – Madonna’s first appearance on the series.
Traktor’s Ole Sanders spoke to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet about Madonna’s involvement in the clip’s development:
“We received daily e-mails with feedback that was concise, unambiguous and occasionally entertaining. She works extremely hard with gumption and detail, and it was clear to us how she has remained on top for twenty years. It was no use being unprepared with vague ideas disguised as creativity, as there was no place to hide.”
The video was filmed at Hollywood Center Studios in Hollywood, California between August 22 and August 27, 2002 – an atypically lengthy shoot by Madonna’s standards, likely due to the complexities of capturing the special effects and stunts featured throughout the Bond-influenced clip.