“We’re trying to say let’s have some fun, and that’s it. Nothing else at all, really,” said Simon early in Duran’s career. Their splashy video clips reflect that attitude, and Russell Mulcahy’s HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF was the one that really kicked the Duran Duran phenomenon into high gear.
PLANET EARTH and GIRLS ON FILM had already given the boys a solid start in the music video world, but when Les Garland, Senior Vice President of MTV at the time, got a look at HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF he declared it “the greatest video I’d ever seen.” It was immediately placed in heavy rotation in the summer of ‘82 and it caught fire.
Nearly 30 years later, it’s still a hot clip with half a million YouTube views. Though Simon claims the song “draws parallels between city life and jungle life,” it’s basically just about sex, and that explains the appeal of the video as well. It’s a sexy four-minute adventure film with a danceable hook. It’s Raiders of the Lost Ark meets the Playboy Channel meets Apocalypse Now, only with a more upbeat soundtrack. (And all those depressing war references edited out, of course. After all, we’re here to have fun.)
The gorgeous guys scamper through atmospheric Sri Lankan streets, shirts gaping, sweaty chests glistening, rushing as though some purloined government document had fallen into enemy hands.
In the end, it becomes clear where the fire was: they needed to intervene before their buddy Simon was attacked by a tiger. A sexy native she-tiger, that is!
Regrettably, the fellas arrive too late to prevent the tigress (AKA Bermudian model Sheila Ming) from clawing their front man to ribbons, and can only offer sympathetic ears afterward as Le Bon recounts the grizzly details.
It must have been horrible – breathlessly stalking his prey through river and glade, rolling around the sultry rainforest with a scantily clad model, completely succumbing to primitive animal instincts, having to send Nick to fetch some Neosporin and a Band-Aid later… this is the stuff nightmares are made of.
In HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF, Mulcahy executes his boldest Table Flip yet. Simon (apparently irritated by a small performing monkey in a bar) sends his pub table flying not once, but twice. Or at least, the Table Flip is replayed later in the video to artfully contrast Simon being flipped like a rag doll by the tigress.
The Table Flip
The Simon Flip
Despite critics who grumbled at the time about the video’s backward implications – powerful white men having their way with savage native girls and such – HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF is all bark and no bite. In fact, the native turns the tables by wrestling the white man to the ground, and in the end they both just flop around in a display of hedonistic yet PG-rated good clean fun. Beautiful faces, exotic locales and great music. What’s not to like?
Though the Duran/Mulcahy collaborations would grow more elaborate over the years, HUNGRY remains one of their best-loved videos. This is the one that ignited the rampant commercialism of some of the most photogenic faces (performing some of the catchiest songs) in the history of popular music.
Being such a marketable commodity has its downside, though. “Burger King has been at us to use ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ for a commercial ever since it came out,” says guitarist Andy Taylor. “We’ve spent 20 years telling them to fuck off!”
Yeah, it’s tough being such a wolf. Everyone wants a piece.