Depeche Mode: Spirits in the Forest (2019)

Depeche Mode perform in Berlin as part of their 2017-2018 Global Spirit Tour

Six diverse fans from around the world come together in the new film directed by Depeche Mode’s longtime collaborator and creative director Anton Corbijn. Concert footage from the band’s Berlin, Germany stop on the 2017-2018 Global Spirit Tour is intermixed with interviews and candid video of the group’s devotees who share their personal stories and struggles in order to explain their connection with Depeche Mode’s music. The innovative project pays tribute to the band that formed in 1980 by focusing on a few of the fans who have helped the band sell 100 million records worldwide.

When we first meet 22-year old Indra from Ulan Bator, Mongolia she’s putting away a stack of Depeche Mode vinyl from her collection. It was her stepdad that introduced her to the band when she was very young. Indra remembers him watching the band’s concerts online and it wasn’t until she turned 12 that she began to understand the group’s lyrics.

It feels claustrophobic inside the tiny dwelling which Indra shares with her grandmother. She refers to the space as a “very typical communist apartment” but outside those four walls lies breathtaking views of the mountains in the scenic Mongolian countryside.

Corbijn does a terrific job of demonstrating how there is no typical Depeche Mode fan. They come from all walks of life, vary in age, and speak different languages. Their love for the band’s music unites them. Anyone who’s ever been to a DM concert can relate. It doesn’t take long for you to meet other fans who most likely have travelled far to be at the show.

Back in 2010, Dicken Schrader and his two young kids Milah and Korben became internet sensations after uploading videos of themselves performing Depeche Mode songs using a mixture of instruments and toys. The family from Bogota, Columbia went on to form the cover band DMK and have been invited to play all over the world. You owe it to yourself to watch their “Everything Counts” cover on YouTube.

Dicken and his kids are featured in the documentary as they discuss how Depeche Mode’s music brings them together even though they are separated and live 1,500 miles apart (the kids live with their mother in Miami). Milah, now a teenager, explains “We stay connected with our dad because of the band, and also because we love him and stuff, but this band is what brings us here to Bogota most of the time.” She may seem intimidated by the camera, but we know exactly what she means when describing the close-knit family’s affinity for the group.

Other fans featured in “Spirits” include Christian from Romania who first heard “Personal Jesus” played on the country’s national radio station in 1991 and purchased his first tape, “Black Celebration” two years later. Liz from Los Angeles shares her story growing up as half African-American, half Irish-American who was told that black people listen to hip hop music. She’s passed her love of DM to her teenage kids. Carin from France went through seven years of depression and suffered complete memory loss at age 25. She had to go back to school to learn to read and write again. Family and friends tried to help her remember her past, but nothing clicked until she heard a song by Depeche Mode.

“Spirits” also shows how certain Depeche Mode songs closely touch fans like Daniel from Berlin who hid being gay from his parents while growing up. As he speaks about his personal story the documentary cuts to footage of the band performing “Walking in My Shoes” which features the lyrics “Now I'm not looking for absolution. Forgiveness for the things I do. But before you come to any conclusions, try walking in my shoes.” Another song that has a personal meaning to a couple of the group’s fans is “Precious” written by band member Martin Gore for his kids.

Award-winning filmmaker Anton Corbijn is responsible for the band’s iconic videos from “Music for the Masses,” “Violator,” and “Songs of Faith and Devotion” among others. Here he captures some of the band’s finest moments from the Global Spirit Tour including “Where’s the Revolution,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “Just Can’t Get Enough,” and a rousing rendition of “Enjoy the Silence.” Vocalist David Gahan and guitarist/keyboardist Martin Gore are the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of Alternative Rock and together with keyboardist Andy Fletcher, the trio have been performing together for almost 40 years. They are joined on the tour by drummer Christian Eigner and keyboardist Peter Gordeno.

“Spirits in the Forest” transcends the concert film genre by bringing the audience one on one with other Depeche Mode fans who describe how they have been affected and touched by the band’s music. It will screen in cinemas worldwide November 21 with encore screenings in select locations on November 24.

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society.  He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate."

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