"Isn't all art an attempt to identify yourself, really? At some level, I've made a career out of personality crisis."
Like a Video: Walk On (International Version -- Rio De Janeiro
May 25, 2016
[Ed. note: This is the 32nd in a series of essays by the @U2 staff about U2-related visuals and videos. Some essays may be informational and educational, while others may be more personal.]
“Walk On” has been one of my favorite U2 songs for a while. It was on my playlist for U2.com in 2014, but my feelings about it change according to the time in which I’m living. Recently, I’ve been listening to “Walk On” a lot. I’m repeating to myself like a mantra: “Leave behind, be strong, walk on.” This is helping me to overcome some problems.
There are two video versions; I’ve chosen the one shot in Rio de Janeiro, because I’m Brazilian and we’re a few months from the Olympic Games. I’ll give more details based on my own experience visiting Rio in 2013.
The last time I went to Rio, I really wanted to be a tourist and stay where 99 percent of tourists stay, Copacabana. Of course, like everything, there are good and bad points, but I was open for this trip. I can’t say I followed all of U2’s steps in the video, but I tried. Some sites I visited only because U2 was there.
The video starts with a plane landing in the airport. I had the impression that my plane was going to land in the water, and the video reflects that exactly. I can assure you the beauty of Rio starts right there.
We then see images of the band in the Copacabana Palace, one of the luxurious hotels in Brazil, and the most famous. The hotel is a city icon with lots of history. I couldn’t afford to stay there, but found a cheap hotel two blocks away and had practically the same view. It’s so beautiful; I spent a long time on my balcony admiring the landscape, just like the band does in the video.
I live in São Paulo, which doesn’t have a beach. So one of the things I admire in Rio is that you can delight a lot in the outdoors, even if the weather is not sunny. I’m happy to know U2 had fun in Brazil and was interested in being in touch with our culture. We see that in the scenes where the band members are on the shore drinking coconut water and playing football (soccer for Americans), two traditional pastimes here. U2 and Brazilians share the same passion for football, so it’s a great connection. The band shot these scenes at Praia da Reserva, an ecological reserve area. Not too close to the city center, the area is quite calm, and a good option for those who want to relax and be near nature.
In my travels, I could only stay in Rio for a couple of days, and didn’t have time to see the whole city. So I did just like U2; I got a car to drive to and walk around some places. If I liked a place, I stopped to learn more about it. One spot I really cared about visiting was Escadaria Selarón, a set of world-famous steps covered with paintings, tiles, ceramics and mirrors. Chilean artist Jorge Selarón created the artwork as a “tribute to Brazilian people.” The staircase is very long (215 steps) because it connects two neighborhoods: Lapa and Santa Teresa. Selarón’s work is amazing; every piece is different and full of details. The art was created over the years and the site has gained international recognition. Snoop Dogg filmed a music video there, too.
If you like to hang out at night like the Irish, you might enjoy Lapa, which is very bohemian, with many bars where you can drink beer or play snooker with friends. It’s hard to imagine the band walking around, doing regular things, and not being recognized. I’m glad to see it was still possible; they felt comfortable and partied together.
The images of the live show were shot for Fantástico, a TV program. Only a few fans were there; unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the invited. I’m sad I wasn’t selected, especially knowing that celebrities were in the audience. Opportunities to watch a pocket show like that should be exclusively for die-hard fans like us. Honestly, I hate privileges for famous people. I can’t change the business, though.
Other scenes of the band playing were shot at MAM, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, which contains national and international modern and contemporary art. The architecture is very beautiful and includes a free space outside.
In the video, Bono wears a T-shirt featuring Aung San Suu Kyi. “Walk On” was written for her and she makes an appearance at the end of the video. But before her message, we also see some of the problems in Brazil: poverty, slums, street children, unemployment, lack of sanitation, etc. It’s the unpleasant side of the country, but it’s reality. I like knowing that U2 is aware of this situation. The band showed the beauty of Rio, but didn’t put our troubles aside. After all, what’s left? Faith. What can’t you leave behind? Love. Then, we see the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the mountain Corcovado. Every time I visit Rio, I go to the top of Corcovado to give thanks and receive blessings. It’s a very special place, and the view is spectacular. It fits perfectly with Suu Kyi’s final words in the video: “This is not the end, there is a long way to go and the way may be very, very hard. So, please, stand by.”
(c) @U2/Bottini, 2016