Depeche Mode: Alive in Berlin

by Paul Field (@pafster)

Depeche Mode: Alive in Berlin a film by Anton Corbijn. That sounds decent right, and if you’re a fan of the band, bed wettingly exciting times. Corbijn has had creative control of the bands imagery and videos for years and produced some amazing work, most people will remember the Enjoy The Silence and Personal Jesus videos. Film types will know Control, The American (with George Clooney) & the late Philip Seymour Hoffman leads in his latest. A Most Wanted Man.

personaljesusPersonal Jesus dir Anton Corbijn 1989

Watching the trailer for Alive in Berlin, I saw some fan interview clips…”How many times have you seen them live” is asked of one girl, “oh..fourteen times….this year”. Yeah, they can be quite obsessive, even me, I flew to Nice to see the warm-up gig for this tour. But that clip turns out to be pretty much it, a few questions to a few fans. Nicholas Abrahams on the other hand in his 2008 film, The Posters Came From The Walls explored the history and devotion of DM fans all over the world, their significance behind the iron curtain is fascinating. A quite remarkable and heart warming film that sadly, you’ll probably never get to see (put it this way, I had to arrange a screening via a local properly licensed film society, I still have that copy….)

posterscamefromwallsPosters Came From The Walls – dir Jeremy Deller & Nicholas Abrahams 2008

But Posters has no concert film, so Corbijns film will deal with fans, the band & will present the amazing live show…….

Lets pause and go back for more history, this has been done before. Legendary film-maker D.A.Pennebaker shot a truly cinematic documentary film in 1989’s 101. This was genius, they ran and filmed a competition for fans to travel in a tour bus and go to gigs culminating in the band performing their 101’st gig of the tour at the enormous Pasadena Rose Bowl. A truly wonderfully funny trip, fantastic backstage footage of the band and the bands most iconic live performance ever. If you want to see a proper music feature documentary, this is the best ever made.

Depeche Mode - 101 (Live) - Front101 dir D.A. Pennebaker 1989

So finally we turn to Alive In Berlin. A 5 disc set….. 5 flippin discs, this is crazy levels of content. Okay, so the audio is presented on 2 CD’s, that’s fine….what else have we here. The concert on DVD…good, good, still two more discs. The concert on DVD again with interview snippets at the end of the song performances. Wait…what? I’m looking for the Blu-ray, why would you present two copies of the gig (albeit with slight changes as filmed over 2 nights, but mostly the same tracks). Stop, wait…here’s the Blu-Ray. Oh… its an audio only version of the last album remastered in HD audio.

The concert DVD, both of them are utter, utter garbage. The interview segments are not even selectable on their own to skip through (they are mixed in at the end of each song), the picture quality is worse than VHS, the 5.1 mix sounds compressed to hell. The interviews themselves are boring, revealing nothing. This, people, is the most cynical cash grab I’ve seen so far. But don’t panic, if you did spend £35 on this, help is at hand. You can get a HD version of the footage by paying an additional £18 at iTunes. But not all the concert tracks, obviously…..

Online petitions have sprung up demanding a Blu-Ray release… no shit. And they will release it too. As an aside, on release day, the HD iTunes version was delayed and when I went to look at the two songs released in full HD as trailers for this, THIS CONTENT HAS BEEN REMOVED BY THE ACCOUNT HOLDER message popped up, so there’s no side by side for you of the DVD and the full HD versions. Its as if someone went into a panic at Sony and thought, what we’re advertising is not what people are getting…..

Here’s a publicity still:

DM_live1

…and here’s the reality:

dm reality
Welcome to 2014. Move on, there’s literally nothing to see here.

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3 thoughts on “Depeche Mode: Alive in Berlin”

  1. Wow, you may have just saved my Christmas. DM are also my favourite band and this seemed like a must purchase. I have loved Anton’s work over the years, but this indeed appears to be one to avoid.

    Nice piece, sir.

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