The video was filmed by director Russell Mulcahy among the jungles, beaches, and temples of Sri Lanka in April, 1982. Scenes were filmed atop the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, among the ruins of a Buddhist temple at Polonnaruwa and the island’s southern coastline.
The shoot was a difficult but memorable experience for the band. Simon Le Bon and Roger and John Taylor went ahead to the location while Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes were in London finishing mixes for the ‘Rio’ album and B sides. They had almost no time after that was done to change clothes before catching their flight, and Rhodes wore the same leather jacket and trousers he had been wearing against the London chill.
When they arrived in Colombo, it was very hot, and Rhodes was uncomfortable in his clothing. Taylor reassured him they would be in their hotel soon and could relax. The driver who met them in a flatbed truck informed them it would be several hours’ driving time to Kandy in the centre of the country, where the band were lodged. Along the way they were struck by the poverty they witnessed.
During the filming of the scene where the band members were riding elephants, a female elephant made a strange sound. One of the crew had recorded it, and found it funny enough to play back. It turned out to be the elephant’s mating call, which led the elephant carrying Roger Taylor to charge downhill and attempt to mount the female. “It was funny as hell, but quite hairy for a moment”, says Rhodes.
While perched on a branch over a lagoon and miming playing his guitar, an intoxicated Andy Taylor fell into the water. He accidentally imbibed some, and had to be hospitalized during the band’s subsequent Australian tour due to a tropical virus he contracted at that time. The band members all initially refused to do the scene where an elephant sprays water from its trunk onto one of them due to its homoerotic overtones; they finally settled on John Taylor since he was the band’s pinup boy. He would be teased about it for years afterwards. “I didn’t care,” he wrote in 2012. “I loved it. It is one of my most treasured memories.”
Andy Taylor recalls in his memoirs that the shooting at the temple was very tense, since the country was on the verge of civil war and the temple’s monks were impatiently waiting for their leader to arrive and address a large political gathering. The band members wore bare feet in deference to the temple’s religious importance, frequently scorching themselves on the bare rock they were standing on. During some takes, the band members yelled “Fuck you Russell!” instead of mouthing the lyrics. For one scene, Le Bon and Rhodes were dropped off from a helicopter that could not itself land on the monument.
A live version of the song was released in 1984. That night, Simon Le Bon dedicated it to Marvin Gaye, who had been fatally shot the previous day. The video was taken from Duran Duran’s Oakland, California concerts that were filmed for the Arena (An Absurd Notion).
Duran Duran are donating their proceeds from Eagles Of Death Metal’s cover of Save A Prayer to charity.