MCMXC a.D. Video Review

[MCMXC a.D Cover]

bt Joar Grimstvedt

This is a very delicate video. The soothing and sensual music of Enigma is visualised with pictures of mystical places and personas, the colours are very warm and gentle, and the various scenes are overlayed and superimposed and mostly played at slow motion.

The basis for this video album is the four videos produced for Sadeness Part I, Mea Culpa Part II, Principles Of Lust and The Rivers Of Belief. Images from these videos are used for the other musical pieces, together with other material. I'll cover the video from the beginning to the end.

There is no introduction, it starts right on with the music. You see various scenes and images, images which you will encounter as the video evolves. Of the more impressive of these is a scene from the coast, with the camera being at sea level. The camera zooms in to a person standing with a sword at the edge of a steep cliff.

Sadeness Part I then comes up. This has a story to it, an apprentice sitting in a dark room writing with a feather pen on papyrus paper. He falls asleep and enters a dream world. In this world he is a red- robed person in the ruins of a cathedral. You see a pretty face saying 'Sade, dites-moi' and 'Sade, donnes-moi'. We follow this young man as he walks around the ruins, and as the song draws to an end, he suddenly awakes.

The music now changes into new waters, literally. The beginning of Principles Of Lust is very floating and watery, we see a woman and a man under water, slimly dressed. Air bubbles are rising everywhere. As this part of the music builds on the image gets more and more blurry, and when the rhythm comes in we find a room full of very beautiful ladies. Amongst these amorous females walks a man. This is by far the most sensual of the videos. It shows one of the ladies and the man together, caressing and kissing eachother. As with much of the other video material, this has a dreamy and soft appearance.

The reverse Gregorian chants leads us to Sadeness (Reprise). This video is very visual, with strong images. As the piano comes in, we see a wide brown-soiled valley, filmed from the air. We see a glacier, the perma-frozen land, geysers. Sadeness (Reprise) fades out, and the screen goes blank.

The next we see is a the smokey output of a geyser, filmed at short range and shown with only a couple of frames a second. Together with the ambience from the music, this creates a very special atmosphere. In this video there's also some impressive images, a knight with a sword in front of a staircase waterfall, a woman also having a sword, standing in what seems to be a hot water source, an Indian boy jumping from a flooded temple and into the river, carriagemen.

Mea Culpa Part II features a woman, and also a man, dancing, though we never see them together. There is a vague story to this video, with the woman being transported away in a carriage pulled by a bull. In other scenes we see her freedom, such as during the guitar part.

The next track, The Voice & The Snake, is basically the rendition set to some mystical background. We see the mouth of the person speaking, and this mouth is duplicated around the screen.

As this track fades out, we see fire. Intense, burning flames. A reflective sphere is in the middle, and the flames are faded away to reveal a woman holding this sphere which turns out to be the source of the flames. A change of scenes gives us the young man from Sadeness knocking on a door, then the knight stabbing his sword to the ground, with finally the girl in the water doing the same, all in sync with the knockings from the music. The song then plays through, to give way to the metronomic ticking of Way To Eternity.

This piece brings us to the majestic architecture of Ramses the Second, in Egypt. A man walks in front of the enormous temples.

Hallelujah celebrates the freedom of the woman which we know from Mea Culpa. She runs through the mellow garden of trees, and the atmosphere is very soft and airy.

This track leads us to the conclusion of the album, The Rivers Of Belief. Although this is one of the videos directed to be a stand-alone, the images we find here are already familiar since they've been used throughout the video album. Of particularly strong impact are the scenes of the Indian boy jumping in the flooded river, an Indian girl dressed in blue praying, and a Medieval person swaying his fireball. The first time I saw this video it gave me quite a shock. After seeing all these beautiful and soft scenes, the impressive images and beautiful ladies, it scared me to see Michael Cretu himself during the chorus. To suddenly see the man behind all this fantastic and enormous music, was something I will remember from this first viewing.

This video made me go to the encyclopedias searching under the keywords of Egypt, India, Iceland, geyser, pyramids, temple, and others, trying to find some of the many images displayed in the video. You can imagine my sheer joy when, while looking under Iceland, I found one of the sites - Gullfoss. This is the staircase falls which the knight with the sword has as a background. Translated into English the name means Golden Falls, and is indeed impressive.

Watching this video album, played on a decent sound system and displayed on a large screen, would be something akin to the ultimate experience. It is just a fabulous piece.

  • Look at the MCMXC a.D. review
  • Look at the MCMXC a.D. "The Limited Edition" review