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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11. "Material Girl" (1985)

"Marilyn was made into something not human in a way, and I can relate to that," said Madonna. "Her sexuality was something everyone was obsessed with, and that I can relate to. And there were certain things about her vulnerability that I'm curious about and attracted to." This homage to Marilyn Monroe's 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes probably ended up being homaged even more than the original: Taylor Swift's recent performance of "Shake it Off" at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards may have been more Madge than Norma Jean. (Says director Mary Lambert of Swift, "I think she's amazing and I was flattered"). Though Madonna would soon venture into movies like Vision Quest, Desperately Seeking Susan and Who's That Girl, "Material Girl" was shot like a stand alone film with a music video it its core: the Hollywood backlot exteriors looking cinematic, the "stage" interiors glossy and fun. Her cadre of tuxedo'd dancers took their share of choreographed slaps and spills on camera, but no one was hurt. "And anyway," says Lambert, "they were all so infatuated with Madonna, they wouldn't have felt a thing.

Mary Lambert, director: I have always been extremely interested in Marilyn Monroe — her life and persona. Madonna and I shared that fascination. I watched the dance sequence from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes about a million times with [choreographer] Kenny Ortega, who brilliantly reinterpreted it for the film. "Material Girl" was my first collaboration with costume designer Marlene Stewart, who brilliantly reinterpreted the dress. If you have a very specific vision in mind, work with talented people, that's my advice.

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