album was recorded by U2 and Brian Eno. It is a collection of songs written for mostly imaginary movies. Because it is highly
experimental —bespeaking the increasing influence of Brian Eno on the band —the record company was reluctant to
release it as a U2 album, so the epithet The Passengers was devised instead.
of the "difficult" nature of the music (the album's sound is fairly similar to that of Radiohead's post-OK Computer albums)
and the decision to release it under another name, the album is easily the least known and worst selling in the U2 catalogue.
Further, critical reaction from the press, the fans, and even the band members, has been mixed. Drummer Larry Mullen, Jr.
is noted for his disgust of the album: "There's a thin line between interesting music and self-indulgence. We crossed it on
the Passengers record."
half of the album is instrumental, and the vocal tracks generally stray from the clear hooks and melodies that usually define
U2's work. Of these, the delicate "Miss Sarajevo", featuring Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti on vocals, is considered the
most memorable. Reflecting on the album in 1997, Mullen stated, "It hasn't grown on me. However, 'Miss Sarajevo' is a classic."
album alleges to be a collection of songs written for movies. The booklet contains detailed descriptions of each film for
each song, even though many of them are not real (although some, such as Ghost in the Shell and Miss Sarajevo, are).
example, for "Slug", from the fictional movie of the same name, the description provided is:
Heineken's third feature, Slug is an extension of the gritty, photo-realistic style he developed in Alcatura (1984) and Breaking
Glass (1986). Deiter, a young car mechanic (Karl Popper) unable to attract the attention of the cashier Nela (Catarena Hofennes)
arranges an eloborate hold-up at which he will play the hero by seeing off the 'gangsters' and thus saving Nela. Things start
to go badly wrong when the robbers realise that the till is really full of cash, abandon their agreement with Deiter and try
to escape with the money, whereupon the escapade developes into a confused shootout during which Nela shoots a security guard
in the foot and is subsequently arrested. Racked by guilt for having implicated her, Deiter sets out to secure her release
by fair means or foul, seducing the Chief Warden of the woman's prison (Jutta Minnit) in the process.
descriptions includes many pseudonyms and in-jokes. In this description, "Peter Von Heineken" is a play on "Paul McGuinness",
the name of U2's manager, and "Karl Popper" is the name of a philosopher.
movie descriptions are credited to "Ben O'Rian and C.S.J. Bofop". "Ben O'Rian" is an anagram for "Brian Eno", and "C.S.J.
Bofop" is also "Brian Eno" with each letter of the alphabet shifted forward once.
concept can be seen as something of a successor to Eno's Music for Films album.
Sarajevo" is based on a real film, a documentary by Bill Carter. It chronicles a beauty pageant held in the midst of war-torn
From the album's liner notes:
Carter's award-winning documentary Miss Sarajevo chronicles one of the more bizarre events of the war in former Yugoslavia--when
several artists mounted an elaborate beauty contest under mortar fire. The camera follows the organizers through the tunnels
and cellars of the city, giving a unique insight into life during a modern war, where civilians are the targets. The film
captures the dark humour of the besieged Sarajevans, their stubborn refusal to be demoralised, and suggests that surrealism
and dadaism are the appropriate responses to fanaticism.
traveled to Sarajevo in the winter of 1993 to offer humanitarian aid and quickly
found himself in the heart of the conflict. He lived for six months in a burnt out office building, subsisting on baby food
and whatever water he could find in the rivers and sewers and delivering food and medicine to those in need.
originally contacted U2 while they were on their Zoo TV Tour. Feeling that the western media was ignoring the human aspect
of the war, Carter wanted to show audiences the real people involved. The band arranged for several satellite link-ups where
Carter gave the locals--who had been cut off from communication with the rest of Europe for about a year and a half at this
point--an opportunity to be heard before stadiums of thousands. "The idea was simple, instead of doing what the news does,
which is entertain you, I wanted to do something that the news rarely does, make a person care about the issue...I wanted
young people in Europe to see the people in the war, I didn't want them see politicians or religious leaders or military spokesmen."
--Bill Carter The link-ups were brief and unedited.
had his camera sent to him from his home in California so he could film the
documentary (which has no links to the band aside from the song written for it) with the same goal of exposing people to the
individuals living through the war. "The war is just a backdrop, it could be any war, the point is the vitality of the human
spirit to survive, [to] laugh, to love, and to move on, that is something we will be addressing always."
song protests the war in Bosnia, criticizing the international
community for its inability to stop the war or help those affected by it. It was the only single released from the album.
Its video combines clips from Bill Carter's documentary--which contains some striking imagery, such as a shot of the contestants
holding up a banner with the words "DON'T LET THEM KILL US"--with footage from the Passengers' first performance of the song
at the 1995 Pavarotti and Friends concert.
addition to that performance, the song was played once on U2's Popmart Tour in 1997, at the band's Sarajevo
show (with Brian Eno). The real Miss Sarajevo--the winner of the original pageant--was in attendence. The song has since been
played a number of times on the band's 2005 Vertigo Tour.
"Miss Sarajevo" music video (with director's commentary) and a brief documentary about U2's Sarajevo
concert are available on the DVD edition of The Best of 1990-2000.