List Film

Video Killed The Radio Star

Nostalgic, selective documentary on pop promo world profiles Russell Mulcahy, David Mallet and Wayne Isham

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Video Killed The Radio Star

(IND3D)

Did you know that, with the dawn of MTV in the 1980s, the pop promo became almost as important to an artist’s career as their actual songs? Everyone who has studied that period or, worse, lived through it, won’t need telling twice. Well, that’s a blow, because there’s barely an interview that goes by in this three-part music history documentary which doesn’t offer up such an opinion in some way. So, everyone from Bonnie Tyler to Gary Kemp and Simon Le Bon to Mick Fleetwood deliver that statement as though they were the first to ever say it.

Shown originally on the Sky Arts channel, Video Killed the Radio Star is a nostalgic trip of sorts, albeit a highly selective one. The three segments are divided up by director rather than, say, years or genres, making it a rather narrow portrait of a singularly vast field. Russell Mulcahy, David Mallet and Wayne Isham are the three makers in question and they certainly can take their place in the promo pantheon for, respectively, ‘Wild Boys’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and, um, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’. But such a tight focus means no mention at all of the era’s true groundbreakers: ‘Thriller’, ‘Two Tribes’, ‘Take on Me’ and even some others that didn’t begin with ‘t’, such as ‘Money for Nothing’ and ‘Sledgehammer’. There are acres of extras on these discs which bumps up the running time considerably, taken up mainly by extended versions of the artist interviews and, truly the only real pleasure of this box set, the actual films themselves.

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