August 16, 2011 12:06 PM ET
Keith Jenkins, NPR Multimedia Senior Producer
- Take a Bow
- from Bedtime Stories
- by Madonna
As a magazine photographer who came of age in the 1990s, I owe a debt of gratitude to Madonna. If Michael Jackson introduced us to the concept of music video as short film, then Madonna raised it to high visual art. Just as her music evolved into lush, ever-changing canvases for her various incarnations, the “pictures” of her metamorphoses were often re-created in her videos. They never left much to the imagination; rather, they became your imagination, with Madonna’s vision for her songs drilling into your brain, unlocking your waking eye. Director Michael Haussman’s 1994 “Take a Bow” does that for me; its rich, sensually framed sepia tones only partially obscure the song’s meditations on love, sacrifice and death. Because of its Spanish, Catholic and bullfighting themes, many read it as Madonna’s attempt to lock up the role of Eva Peron in the film version of Evita. I, however, think Carmen, as Madonna gives us a four-and-a-half-minute opera channeling Bizet’s classic, at least in my eyes. “Take a Bow” is a slow, smoldering visual feast, and its music washes over you and gets your blood boiling. You may not walk on water after hearing it, but you may want to get your focus back by walking on broken glass.