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Being brilliant is to take risks. I don't mean taking risks in the shallow water of the avant-garde but in the deep water. -- Bono

U2 - Vertigo, a Treatment by Alex & Martin

The original video treatment written for U2's Vertigo music video
U2 - "Vertigo" a treatment by Alex & Martin


The idea behind this video is to depict, by way of a dazzling performance by U2, the state of paranoia into which we have been plunged today. Furthermore it is an exploration of the meaning of "Vertigo" by way of a metaphorical representation of FEAR.

Fear is symbolised in the form of a giant, menacing bull, that is conquered by a second monster, which is the manifestation of U2's sense of compassion. For it is only through compassion and understanding that one combats the hate and fear that have come to dominate our world.


The band are standing in the centre of an enormous target board which is somewhere in the middle of the desert.

The ground beneath them is light in colour and smooth, and on the horizon, rows of mountains can just be seen.

The first guitar riff kicks in, and a powerful gust of wind hits the band, who are all clad in black. The wind blast repeats at the start of each riff, suggestive of rough, excessive breathing, as and it does so, the band seem to generate powerful trails of black smoke from behind them, which take life and create forms whenever the wind dies down. These strange forms evaporate when the wind returns.

The strangely-textured smoke moves rhythmically along with the music. It symbolises the fear within each member of the band.

Soon we come to realise that the powerful wind is the breath from the giant menacing bull, which lowers its head in preparation for his charge towards the band.

This bull, an allegory of fear and anxiety, scrapes at the ground furiously in front of Bono who continues with his performance unflinchingly.

Gradually we see that the band are creating their own vaporous monster, which is every bit as powerful as the bull that already stands menacingly before them.

By the slow break, the second monster is fully revealed, perfectly formed, standing before his counterpart, even more frightening than he. They approach each other slowly.

In the last part of the song, Bono falls to his knees before the demonic bull which evaporates as he does so.

Finally the monster also disappears leaving the band alone in the calm and serenity of the desert.


A dazzling video whose power comes from spectacular shots of the band in performance and the fantastically-rendered animated symbols of fear.

The environment is initially bright and lit by sunshine, but the dark smoke soon turns the atmostphere gloomy.

This is essentially a performance video, the filming techniques can be broken down into several parts:

- Pure performance captured on hand-held camera. - Aerial (helicopter) shots. - The shots will be dynamic, constantly moving to heighten the sense of "Vertigo" and the dimension of the monsters. - We will develop camera movements that evoke a sense of vertigo (rotating shots, circular movements, filming from very high up). - To give a sense of realism, we will also use shoulder-level shots.

The photography revolves around two general ambiences: Brightness, sunshine (flare), strong contrast, and gloomy darkness once the second monster appears.

The editing will also heighten the sense of "Vertigo."

Essentially, we would like to create a fantastic and extraordinary show across which U2 illustrate a sense of paranoid dizziness.

The Smoke:

The smoke will be black and move quickly from out of the band's clothes out behind them (as if each of them were being consumed in it without disintegrating).

The smoke also represents vertigo -- it twists and spirals into different forms behind each person, creating a sense of this vertigo, always evolving along with the melody of the song. Once the form of the monster materialises, dark, sombre colours appear, creating an atmosphere of menace.

At the end of the video, the smoke clears and the bright sky is restored.

The Monsters:

The idea here is to symbolically depict fear in a set of fantastical bull characters, created and animated in CGI.

Their movements are dynamic, nervy, frightening, they interact with the band's performance, e.g. - as they step forward, vibrations shudder under the band's feet.

© Alex & Martin/Partizan, 2004.