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‘Unknown Pleasures’ Videos: Joy Division’s Debut Reimagined
List & Guides

‘Unknown Pleasures’ Videos: Joy Division’s Debut Reimagined

Filmed by a raft of directors, these ‘Unknown Pleasures’ videos offer fresh perspective on Joy Division’s immediate and haunting debut album.

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Even if you’re not a Joy Division fan – or even a fan of music – chances are you will have seen the iconic pulsar signal plotting that adorns the cover of their debut album, Unknown Pleasures, dotted around every arty neighbourhood in the world. To celebrate the album’s 40th anniversary, in 2019, every track on Unknown Pleasures was given a new reimagined music video by a host of renowned directors and visual artists.

There’s no need to mince words with a description of Unknown Pleasures: released on Factory Records on 5 June 1979, it is a masterpiece. From the opening drums of Disorder to the closing industrial sounds of I Remember Nothing, it’s an album with no excess fat. It’s immediate, it’s haunting, it’s transporting. Collectively, Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Martin Hannett and Peter Saville created art with Unknown Pleasures – and art is what it inspired.

These reinterpreted videos offer a fresh perspective on each track, while demonstrating this landmark post-punk album’s continual inspiration.

Disorder (directed by Sean Evans)

Unknown Pleasures’ opening track creates its own world of visuals every time it plays, so creating a new video interpretation is no simple task. Here, director Sean Evans lets the music really breathe with a video that incorporates the infamous pulsar diagram interwoven with dancing that builds in energy as the track does.

Day Of The Lords (directed by Feargal Ward and Adrian Duncan)

Certainly not a video you’re likely to forget in a hurry, the reimagined version of Day Of The Lords sees a man wander through crowds with his arms covered in leaves, letting out feral screams at passers-by. The camera work and drained colour palette add even more to effect. It’s certainly one of the boldest videos in the Unknown Pleasures collection.

Candidate (directed by Amos Poe)

One of the key directors associated with the No Wave cinema movement that started in New York in the mid-70s, Amos Poe’s simplistic reimagining of Candidate fades in imagery in time with the brewing rhythm of the track. The visuals are interlaced with selected lyrics that cut in throughout.

Insight (directed by Makoto Nagahisa)

The reimagined Insight video is a true reworking, in the best possible way. Makoto Nagahisa has taken the song’s lyrical content and sonic landscape, and established a full story for it, complete with striking visuals and performances.

New Dawn Fades (directed by Todd Hido)

With his reimagining of New Dawn Fades, renowned American artist and photographer Todd Hido has applied his expertise in capturing the essence of suburban life.

She’s Lost Control (directed by Lorraine Nicholson)

A very literal interpretation of She’s Lost Control, but an effective one. Black-and-white is the colour palette of choice for Joy Division, and this video keeps it traditional. The smashing of plates during an earthquake, and the subsequent panic that unravels, is a beautiful visualisation of the fragility of the mind and how quickly everything can change for the worse.

Shadowplay (directed by Vincent Moon)

Undoubtedly the most modern interpretation of the bunch, the Shadowplay video sees a party in the forest where things step up a level once the DJ drops the song. It’s definitely a bold choice during a DJ set, but everyone in attendance seems to be having a great time. The video is a testament to Joy Division’s appeal to every generation since they first broke through, and captures the energy of one of the standout songs from Unknown Pleasures.

Wilderness (directed by Lynne Ramsay)

Director of the excellent 2017 psychological thriller You Were Never Really Here, Lynne Ramsay is an expert in building suspense, and this sinister video for Wilderness is no different. The camera hugs close to the action as the actor slowly steps through a forest and emerges in a fairground.

Interzone (directed by James Dimmock)

How do you convey the energy of a track like Interzone, while updating the visuals for the 21st Century? One way is to follow James Dimmock’s lead: placing a woman dressed as a superhero fighting other people dressed as superheroes.

I Remember Nothing (directed by Helgi & Hörður)

The pressure and inner conflict felt on Unknown Pleasures’ closer are interpreted as two men fighting in matching outfits. Showing two sides of the same person trying to suppress one another – or two people in a relationship coming to blows – is an accurate representation of I Remember Nothing’s lyrics.

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