Of the three videos Duran Duran shot with Russell Mulcahy whilst in Sri Lanka, “Lonely In Your Nightmare” is both the least known and the least impressive. Granted, the standard set by “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Save a Prayer” is pretty high, but still, this one’s a dud.
At least… well, one version of this video is a dud. You know how Duran Duran kept tweaking and revising their videos, to an extent that even George Lucas would consider overly fussy and excessive? (You know how there’s five different versions of “New Moon On Monday” floating around out there?) Two significantly different versions of this video exist: There’s the original, which was cobbled together entirely from footage shot in Sri Lanka, and a later version, included on Duran Duran’s 1983 video album, which also contains a bunch of scenes shot in London. The revised version, while not among the all-time best Duran videos, has some good moments. The original version, on the other hand, is… how shall I describe it? I’m going to go with “unwatchable.”
Yeah. That pretty much sums it up.
The original version focuses on a leggy brunette, who is played by Vanya Seager, the model who dances with Simon in the “Save a Prayer” video. In the original version of “Lonely In Your Nightmare,” Vanya writhes around in a gauze-draped four-poster bed while dreaming of frolicking with Simon. That’s pretty much it. The video clocks in at just under five minutes, and almost a minute and a half of that features the same quick snippet of Vanya tossing and turning in bed, over and over and over again. It’s almost farcically repetitive and mind-numbingly dull.
The revised version takes the bare bones of the original and adds a framing device, which is set in London. It’s shot in black-and-white and is shown mostly from Simon’s point of view. Wise choice—Vanya is lovely, but she can’t hold the screen as well as Simon can.
In the opening scenes, “Planet Earth” plays faintly in the background as Simon prowls around an abandoned apartment. It almost seems apocalyptic—the apartment is fully furnished, but piles of dust and signs of decay are everywhere. Simon unearths a stack of Polaroids from beneath an inch of dust on a dresser. He flips through them while looking anguished and glamorous.
He leans against the wall and stares out the window. He catches a glimpse of a dark-clad woman—Vanya—walking down the street, away from the apartment.
Simon lapses into a daydream about his past with Vanya, and here’s where the Sri Lanka footage first appears. Vanya writhes around in bed, deep in troubled sleep. Simon slinks up to her side and nuzzles against her forehead.
He also reminisces about seeing her draped in a white gown and veil, almost like a wedding dress. She’s standing in the carved archway of what looks like an outdoor shrine, while he approaches her, dressed in a white suit. This is from the original version as well; as dull as the finished video ultimately turned out, at least it had all that gorgeous Sri Lankan scenery working in its favor.
In London, Roger and Andy hang out at a produce stand at an outdoor market. Roger spots Vanya. She’s now bundled up in heavy dark clothes, in marked contrast to the filmy dresses she wears in all the Sri Lanka scenes. Roger nudges Andy to alert him to her presence, but when Andy turns to look, she’s nowhere in sight.
Andy and Roger both look ridiculously wholesome and cute here. Sometimes these two rival the formidable John-Nick team in terms of overall adorability. Remember “New Moon on Monday,” where Roger and Andy scurry down cobblestone streets while toting their special moon-powered, laser-shooting kite? Yeah, this is approaching that level of cuteness.
(Ah, that moon-powered, laser-shooting kite. Even by Duran Duran’s standards, “New Moon on Monday” is pretty much bonkers.)
Back in Vanya’s flat, Simon stares at the Polaroids again. They’re shots of Vanya in Sri Lanka, no surprise. He lapses into more daydreams: of Vanya at a colorful outdoor festival, of Vanya cavorting on the beach with a couple of small Sinhalese children… Yeah, you know what? Even the revised video uses that shot of Vanya writhing around in bed far too many times. At least it’s padded out with a bunch of other scenes.
In London, Vanya sits outside, still bundled up in her heavy black clothes. John plops down on a nearby bench, then looks up and recognizes her. He’s distracted by a flock of pigeons; by the time they fly off, Vanya has disappeared. John looks… surprised? Thoughtful? Sleepy? Sometimes it’s tough to suss out what’s going on inside John’s pretty, pretty head.
While Simon is obviously Vanya’s former lover, the connection between Vanya and the rest of the Durans—Andy, Roger and John at least, since thus far Nick has been sadly MIA—is more nebulous. Also, is she even really there, or are the boys just seeing things? The combination of her dust-covered apartment and the way she keeps vanishing makes me suspect she’s not really around. Factor in how it looked like she and Simon were getting married in Sri Lanka, and there’s actually sort of a cool, creepy little mystery emerging here, which was entirely absent from the original version.
Back to Sri Lanka: Simon wanders around a beach while wearing a natty suit and tie. He spots Vanya standing at a railing, staring out at the sea. Her dress billows up behind her, giving her a marked resemblance to a Maxfield Parrish painting.
A gala outdoor festival takes place at night. All the Durans are in attendance, looking sunburned and sleepy and dopey. Except for Nick. Nick! The last thirty seconds of the video, and Nick finally puts in an appearance! Nick looks hilariously pissed off, like he’s on the brink of pitching a full-scale pixie hissyfit. By multiple accounts, most notably his own, roughing it in Sri Lanka while filming these videos did not make our fussy, high-maintenance Nick a happy little pixie.
The line between “magical pixie” and “malevolent gremlin” is sometimes a fine one.
In the original version of the video, for some unfathomable reason, the face of one of the dancers at the festival is briefly superimposed over Nick’s face. I can’t even take a stab at unraveling the thought process that led to this bit of bizarre whimsy. Unless it was done just to mess with Nick, in which case I can sort of understand and even respect it.
London: Nick, who has been reunited with a working blow dryer and his full array of high-end hair care products, looks sweet and beautiful and not at all like he’s thinking of murdering someone. Nick doesn’t serve any purpose in the new footage other than to look doe-eyed and lovely while giving sexyface to the camera, but really, isn’t that enough?
Sexyface is contagious. Even camera-shy Roger gives sexyface. Roger!
Now it’s John’s turn. Wow. So pretty! John is the unparalleled master of the fine art of sexyface. Twentysomethings everywhere looking to update their Facebook profile photos could learn much from him.
And then there’s Andy. There is not enough cash out there to get Andy to pout sexily at the camera. Sexyface is not in his genes. Nonetheless, he looks pretty damn great here. All the guys look great in the London footage, which is good, because they were starting to look a little rough toward the end of their Sri Lankan jaunt.
The video ends with some footage of Simon leaving Vanya’s apartment and walking down a flight of stairs, the Polaroid photos clutched in his hand.
And that’s the video. Quick added bonus: The awesome Classic Albums episode about Rio contains some cool behind-the-scenes footage of the boys in Sri Lanka while they were shooting this video. Here they are, filming the outdoor festival scene. Nick and Vanya engage in a bit of canoodling, which is sort of fascinating right there, while Andy and John look baked, in every possible sense of the word.
It also has more footage of John and Nick having a blast on that elephant from the “Save a Prayer” video. It’s all too adorable for words, though I question Nick’s decision not to wear pants that day. Rough elephant hide plus water plus sun plus pasty English skin plus a long day of filming can only equal horrible, nasty, painful chafing. No wonder he looked so venomous and cranky during much of the trip.
Even better: There’s footage of multiple Durans on elephants! All of them! I can’t believe they shot this, then didn’t manage to shoehorn it into at least one of the three Sri Lanka videos.
By my way of thinking, if you have footage of Durans riding elephants, you pretty much have a sacred duty to show it to as many people as possible. That’s gold right there.