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R.E.M. Release Expanded NSFW Video for ‘Nightswimming’

Tomorrow, R.E.M. will release a 25th anniversary edition of Automatic for the People. One of the videos that makes up the collection’s fourth disc is an extended and uncensored video for “Nightswimming.” You can watch it above.

The video, directed by Jem Cohen, builds upon the original with an introduction that shows young people stripping down for some skinny-dipping and a campfire. The footage of them swimming is incorporated into the middle, which involves a man going for a late-night swim in a motel pool.

R.E.M. also uploaded a brief clip of Michael Stipe talking about the making of the video. He said that Cohen “called all his coolest friends together and said, ‘We’re going to a lake, or a stream, and we’re setting up really rudimentary lights and you’re gonna get naked and I’m gonna photograph you and make films. And he put together a beautiful piece.”

Cohen told Rolling Stone that he and Stipe had worked together on a film about a swimming hole called Drink Deep that was shot in Stipe’s hometown of Athens, Ga., which made Cohen an obvious choice to direct “Nightswimming.”

“‘Nightswimming’ was simply about skinny-dipping as a liberating celebration for all kinds of people with all kinds of bodies in all kinds of water,” Cohen added. “It was drawn right out of the song and local experience, with the one twist being the man in the motel pool. To me, MTV-style music videos were usually a sexist, commodified drag, so the video was also a chance to take that on a bit. In fact, I was frustrated by music video constraints in general and the footage we got was such a joy that I eventually did the extended ‘Full Moon’ short film you see here; breaking the song in half, full frontal all around, etc.”

But Cohen noted that they ran into a problem while trying to get it done in time: “One of the only hitches with the whole ‘Nightswimming’ project was that to make the deadline we couldn’t wait until summer to shoot so we sometimes froze our asses off, but all in all, it was one of the sweetest gigs I’ve ever had.”

 

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