Video Geography: Duran Duran’s New Moon On Monday
In January of 1984, Duran Duran arrived in Noyers, France with director Brian Grant to film their video for “New Moon On Monday”. Throughout the years, the band members have not looked back fondly on the video shoot, mostly remembering the freezing temperatures and how much they drank to stay warm. While the video might have lacked the excitement of their earlier videos, there was a certain charm to “New Moon On Monday” and it’s story of the band as underground revolutionaries trying to stage a coup. Through the magic of Google Maps, I set off to find Noyers where the boys of Duran Duran once lit their torches and waved them for the new moon on Monday.
Our journey begins with the video itself because some of you (all of you?) may not have seen it in a few years. Ladies and gentlemen, “New Moon On Monday”.
The video opens on stage in an opulent theatre with actors rehearsing a scene in French. After exploring Noyers on Google Maps, I realized a theatre this grand would probably have been in Paris or London and filmed separately from the rest of the video. Director Brian Grant, who would go on to an exceptional career in film and television, was kind enough to point me in the right direction. We begin our journey in Paris and the Theatre Des Champs Eysees. As you can see in the picture, the theatre remains almost identical to how it looked when the band filmed there.
After making eye-contact with a mysterious women, singer Simon LeBon heads out of the theatre and gets on her motorcycle. Being in the world’s hottest band in 1984 had its perks and one of them was being able to cast Miss France, Patricia Barzyk, in their video. Grant remembers, “When we cast the girl, we asked her if she could ride a motorbike. “Of course I can” she said. Classic mistake. When we got on set we found out she’d never been on a bike in her life.” What could go wrong? LeBon and Barzyk ride down an ominous street in Paris at night before the video moves to the small village of Noyers.
After loading wooden crates labelled explosives aboard a horse drawn wagon (as all 80s rock stars did), Nick Rhodes and John Taylor ride through town at night on their mission. As you see below, the stone archway they come through looks the same today as it did in 1984. The window shutters are closed in the video but look virtually unchanged.
Come sunrise, LeBon arrives in Noyers, still on the motorbike. Since Barzyk had exaggerated her ability on a bike, the director had to improvise. “If you look at the aerial shots of Simon on the back of the bike driving through the French countryside, it was the Gaffer, dressed up as a girl, who is driving,” remembers Grant. Tracking down the country road they are headed down took some work. The town appears on their left and as the camera pans away from the motorcycle and the river curving around one edge of town comes briefly into view. That allowed me to orientate the direction of the large work shed they pass and identify the likely road. A smaller grey shed occupies the space where a dirt lot had been in the video which looks like it was cleared for upcoming construction.
Drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor are next to appear in Noyers, coming out of an alley into the village square. With only a handful of streets to explore on Google Maps, it didn’t take long to find the alleyway. The wooden frame of the house on Roger’s left helps pinpoint the location.
They turn the corner and find themselves face to face with the uniformed soldiers who are oppressing the town (or so it is implied). The interesting house in the distance helps to confirm this as the spot where Roger and Andy once stood.
One dead end that not even the director could shed light on was the cafe where the band members and the pouty Miss France huddle to discuss their plans. Grant was positive the scene was shot in Paris but could not remember which area of town and there are far too many cafes in Paris for me to explore so we skip the cafe scene (for now).
The plan they hatch involves handing out cryptic pamphlets on the street. The location was found thanks to the stone arch that frames the door behind LeBon. If you look closely, you can see the sagging frame of the house directly behind LeBon has fallen further over the years.
Now that the elderly folks of Noyers have their Duran Duran flyers, it is time to take action! In rides John Taylor and Nick Rhodes with their explosives through the same square where Roger and Andy had been earlier in the day. The curve of the street and the arches on the left help pinpoint the spot.
Roger and Andy are entrusted with signaling the coup by flying a kite from the church tower. Being the only tall structure in the village made this easy to find.
The kite goes up and people take to the streets. A wave of soldiers on horses ride into town which were an actual army reserve unit according to Grant. The fireworks scare them away and the town is liberated. I think. At this point, it was clear the band was well into the adult beverages and everyone looks properly sloshed. Just another day being the greatest band on MTV. If anyone ever visits Noyers, please get me a shirt of coffee mug!
If you enjoyed this trip into the wormhole that is useless video trivia from the 1980s, check out this impressive piece on Men Without Hats’ legendary video for “Safety Dance” which inspired my adventure in geography.