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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6. "Rain" (1993)

Director Mark Romanek's clips for Lenny Kravitz and En Vogue were high-volume, high-energy affairs that caught the eye of Madonna, who asked him to go behind the camera for this lush Erotica track. "I actually turned her down, because I thought the song was really romantic and I didn't really know what to do with something romantic at that point in my life," Romanek said on his Director's Label DVD. He eventually accepted, and decided to change things up by warping Madonna into the future. "Everything was looking back, and I said, 'Well, maybe it would be kind of interesting to be something futuristic with Madonna.' Her knee-jerk to that was, 'But this song is kind of like Wuthering Heights — it should be black and white, romantic. And I said, 'Well, that's a little too kind of on the nose.'" The resulting clip, with Madonna clad in big headphones and being attended to by makeup artists, had a chilly feel, thanks to its high-contrast look and meta-narrative concept. Picking the clip-within-a-clip's director was a bit of a challenge: "First I think we wanted to have Jean-Luc Godard — and when you're working with someone like Madonna, that's a possibility," Romanek recalled. She reached out to the French New Wave pioneer as well as the Italian director Federico Fellini, but both declined. Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto got the nod, thanks to him being what Romanek called "the most iconic and famous and attractive Japanese icon."

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