Thursday, May 27, 2010

Open Your Heart - The Greatest Video of All Time.

An invitation inside.

Open Your Heart really did something to me at 16 years old. I don't know if it was because Rolling Stone ran a story in Random Notes saying Madonna filmed her new video in 'the seedy Echo Park District of Los Angeles' or if it was because I saw a still from the video in her calendar before it was released with her and those pasties or if it was because of that Tamara DeLempicka stand up on top of the peep show building with light bulbs as nipples. Maybe it was just because of that glorious face, that f*cking body, that cropped butch white hair and that outfit all drenched in that blue light. I'm sure it was all those things and more.

Peep show club facade of Open Your Heart.

Whatever it was, Open Your Heart remains the greatest video of all time. Interesting that it never makes the list and somewhere in all that glory, Open Your Heart got lost. Sure, Papa Don't Preach was cinematic and her pro-life, pro-choice controversy reached above and beyond anything she had done before. Yes, Live to Tell marked the new Madonna and was brilliant in its stark simplicity. However, Open Your Heart is the real star here. I've always thought that Open Your Heart was a little too salacious for its time to get any sort of accolades. It slipped through the cracks before people knew what hit them. An athletic, strong peep show goddess in gold pasties and tassels; voyeurs loving, analyzing, enthralled, writing about, studying and beating off to her - men and women. A young boy waiting outside a porn theater before his mistress arrives in androgynous man/boy attire and firmly plants a kiss on his adolescent lips as they go off and skip into the sunset.

It didn't just push the envelope of the video medium - it blew the envelope up. It merged art and pornography and was played 24 hours a day on MTV. Never the actress (so they said) but always the supreme Movie Star, here we have Madonna starring in her own European art house flick with the greatest soundtrack that Frederick Hollander and Jule Stein could only dream of.

Jean Baptiste Mondino and Madonna made a masterpiece here. From the blue light to the slipping off of the black wig to the skipping off into the sunset and everything in between. The perfect juxtaposition of filth and innocence. Madonna's body was so perfect and her skin so white, she was like a marble statue come to life. The choreography was mesmerizing and sexy - not that drill team shyt that people call choreography. This is the choreography of a film musical. Only a truly trained dancer could get away with it. A perfect breed of burlesque and strip tease yet 100% Madonna. It also marks the beginning of her classic chair routine, Juan.

American Vogue Open Your Heart video review.


  1. That picture above in the chair is the very first Madonna picture that I ever saved from a newspaper, and put it in my scrapbook. I thought that pose was very sexy! Now I have VOLUMES of scrapbooks. You're right it's a great video. And she really needs to get back to making those kinds of videos again that tell a story. SIGH.

  2. "Open Your Heart" was always one of my favorites too -- although I think "Express Yourself" surpasses it on my personal list.

    I always saw the video as a comment on her fame. The peep show dancer is commenting on people's perception of her; the audience in theater represents her audience (including a critic writing a scathing review); and the only person that seems to really get her is the kid outside the theater who is emulating her.

  3. A-watch out! It did seem to get lost in the wake of VOGUE and LIKE A PRAYER but it is one fierce video

  4. Incredibly inspiring. The running into the sunset part used to make me kind of frustrated because I WANTED TO BE THERE. And I swear I have memories (that are OBVIOUSLY not real LOL) of passing in front of that peep show club when I was a kid :laugh:

  5. i remember when the video first premiered on Entertainment Tonight and the host opens the segment with "MADONNA HAS DONE IT AGAIN! and her controversial new video is sizzling hot... but TOO HOT for MTV???" lol, how many times did we hear that over the years??? I was mesmerized as I watched her shed the black wig for the platinum coiff... dragging the chair, ala Sally Boyles in her first Gautlier corset.... it was Fosse meets Marlene... it was wildly subversive yet tenderly touching. I'm with you Pud... her best EVER!!!

  6. angel - love it. xo

    jc - of course i love express yourself but there is something about this one. fincher is great and powerful - very sleek. that video still inspires but with OYH - i cant explain it. it did something to me. that face, that HAIR, that body, that blue light. xo

    chris - a-watch-out!! haha!

    nicolas - everytime im in the area here it was shot, i announce to any passenger - THATS WHERE OPEN YOUR HEART WAS SHOT! HAHAHAH

    brian - its so my favorite - love everything yoe said - so true. i swear, i have all my video tapes from back then and for some reason i felt compelled to record it EACH time they played it. i think i recorded it over 100 times. koo koo!!!

  7. Good video but certainly not her best IMO.

  8. Yes OYH video does get TOTALLY overlooked in all the "best video" polls and discussions!

    I've been a bit intrigued about the timelines here...

    Open Your Heart was set to be the follow-up single to Papa Don't Preach but then apparantly True Blue was rush-released because radio were playing it and so a video for that was hastily made.

    But OYH video - does anyone know WHEN that video was made? The first time I heard about it was a full-page story about it in the UK Daily Mirror Newspaper towards the end of the Summer of 1986. They published 3 paparazzi photos taken of Madonna and Felix filming their outside shots.

    I remember being really confused when the next single and video then were "True Blue" and waiting until Christmas 1986 to see anything more of the OYH video.

    Also the papers here at the outset said that the OYH video was being directed by Sean Penn. Was there something in that? Was he originallly supposed to be directing?

    I love these posts Pud and the discussions!

  9. I have always LOVED Open Your Heart, it made such an impression on me, I remember seeing it when I was 9 or 10 and could not take my eyes off of this woman. I think this is where my love for Mondino began and to this day he is one of my fave M collaborators. His photos are amazing and all of his video work is beyond ahead of it's time (not just for Madonna - Buddy X and Manchild for Neneh Cherry, Tandem and Natural High for Vanessa Paradis, The Boys of Summer for Don Henley, Slave to Love for Bryan Ferry, Violently Happy for Bjork, Russians for Sting) and of course Open Your Heart, Justify My Love, Love Don't Live Here Anymore, Don't Tell Me and Hollywood for M. His photos of M in the gold JPG blond ambition tour bustier with wet hair shot for Bazaar back in 1990 are my fave M photos. She looked incredible and there is just something so futuristic about his work. I wish they collaborated more...

    But back to Open Your Heart - the video was one of M's best, it took her so far ahead of any other female singer that there was no way for anyone to catch up anymore, no competition, it was a movie, something that was so beautiful and made you want to watch it again and again.

  10. I don't like M. look at all in this vid. I think it's one of the worst looks she ever attempted. I mean, the platinum blonde, gamine look. The video is good, although it borrows from Cabaret. I looove Justify my love. Please post more about it!

  11. Along with 'Express Yourself' and 'La Isla Bonita' this is my favourite 80's video. I only really started to love the song 10 years ago or so. It's like the 'justify my love' of the 80s. Sexy, decadent yet sweet and innocent all at once.

  12. Hey I was also surprised when "True Blue" came out as the single at the end of summer in 1986, but I remember hearing that "Where's The Party" was going to be the next single. It was on the radio a few times and I remember DJs talking about it. Then all of a sudden, it seems like "True Blue" was playing. I liked both songs though, so no worries.

  13. This was such a wonderful, magical time. The video is just amazing and it is a shame that it gets left out of "best of" lists. When it was first released not only did I watch it non-stop but whenever I went to a friends house or to my sisters I always took the tape with me to show it to everyone to see what their reaction would be. One of the comments I got was "does she strip all the way?" Another was "she must have shaved", and the other was "why did she call it Open Your Heart? She should have called it Open Your Legs". Ahhhhhhhh,fun times.