Nirvana’s video for the first single from In Utero was originally going to be directed by Kevin Kerslake. The unsettling clip –based on a treatment by Kurt – was helmed by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, who’d also directed videos for U2, Depeche Mode and Danzig.
“When Kurt presented his very precisely thought-out ideas, there was no way to ignore that quality and not to use them,” Anton told Spin. “It is extremely rare to encounter musicians with such well-expressed and original ideas for their own work.”
It’s original, alright. The video features a field of poppies, an old man in a Santa hat climbing onto a crucifix, a young child dressed in Klan robes grasping for toy foetuses hanging from a tree, and a ‘skinned’ obese woman with black angel wings. There’s some light relief, too. A murder of mechanical crows mime along to parts of the song, while the trio perform the track with tongues planted firmly in cheek. Towards the end of the clip, the band sit around in a brightly lit bedroom, while Kurt messes about in a rocking chair and eventually falls flat on his face.
The video was filmed in colour, transferred to black and white, and the footage was painstakingly hand-tinted at a Mexican studio, giving the footage an old-school Hollywood feel.
And as for the six-year-old actress Kelsey Rohr? She was reunited with Dave Grohl in 2016. “Today reminded me that I peaked at six years old but I was the most badass kid on the playground,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Today was the absolute coolest. Or in Dave's words, seeing each other today was an ‘historic moment’! What a legend.”
Given the surreal yet unsettling scenes, it’s a wonder this iconic video was shown on MTV at all.