Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna's 20 Greatest Music Videos

The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories

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17. "Frozen" (1998)

The frosty video for the first single off Ray Of Light was directed by Chris Cunningham, whose work on the creepy clip for Aphex Twin's "Come To Daddy" caught Madonna's attention. "We were thinking of shooting it in Iceland," Madonna told MTV in 1998. "But then I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to be freezing. I'm going to be miserable, I'll be complaining all day, I'll be sorry that I ever chose a cold place. So I said, 'Let's do it in the desert, it'll be warm.'" The weather, however, didn't cooperate: "But then we got there and it was like 20 degrees below zero, it was bitterly cold, and I was barefoot. I was barefoot for the entire video, and then it started pouring rain and everyone got really sick, and it just actually turned out to be a really miserable experience." Cunningham, too, was frustrated by the experience; he originally wanted the clip to be much more elaborate, effects-wise. "The original treatment was, like, massive piles of bodies in the desert. All these figurative sculptures made up of bodies that were all multiple Madonnas," he said in the book accompanying his Director's Label DVD. "They were all going to split and break up and change into ravens and then change into dogs. Just a performance video, but a really elaborate one using her, her clothes, and any shapes that would come out of her clothes." Despite the frustrations, "Frozen" emerged visually stunning: Madonna clad in billowing black, mehndi covering her hands, shape-shifting against a stark desert tableau.

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