Amazon’s Madonna – World of Madame X gives a brief, but intimate glimpse into Madonna’s creative process as she works to put together her fourteenth studio album Madame X. Released by Interscope Records, Madame X showcases songs heavily influenced by her time in Lisbon, Portugal. Nuno Xico’s 2019 documentary short features Madonna immersing herself in the musical culture, language, and history of Portugal.
Mixing history and contemporary issues, Madonna seeks to learn about the music of various cultures. Xico’s direction is thought-provoking as most of the scenes with Madonna are shot in black and white while the music and featured collaborators are done in color. This is an interesting choice and supports Madonna’s intention to provide a platform for the world music she is showcasing. She says that she doesn’t set out to appropriate cultures, but rather pay homage to these influences and expose their music to a wider audience.
Madonna explores themes of intimacy and connection in the digital world and remarks on the falsehoods of online personas. This documentary invites the audience into Madonna’s intimate thoughts in a way that is far different from than the 1991 Truth or Dare. Madonna delves into human rights and the celebration of the individual. On this journey, she not only learns the history of musical genres that derive from other cultures, but learns Portuguese, Brazilian-Portuguese, and Spanish.
Madonna confesses that her travels were in part a way to discover her identity. This is depicted in the persona of Madame X, a name given to her by a dance teacher who deemed her mysterious because her various looks and what those looks meant to her. Fans of Madonna can relate to this aspect as they have seen her in everything from flapper inspired looks to conical bras throughout the years. Madonna is mainly brunette throughout the documentary, but changes her look with the different songs on the album. Fans can also hear some Portuguese inspired versions of hits like “Human Nature” and “Like a Virgin” interspersed throughout the film.
Madonna collaborates with many artists. One story that stands out in particular is her encounter with the Batukadeiras. Batukadeiras are female musicians who chant and sing in a drum circle. Madonna expresses that she felt the strength of female empowerment emanating from them and collaborated with them on the song “Batuka.” In addition to the influences felt by the Batukadeiras, Madonna incorporates other Portuguese influences like fado and morna, songs that evoke feelings of sadness, but also joy. Madonna also shares the historical origin of the krakeb, a percussive instrument used in North African music.
All in all, Xico’s Madonna – World of Madame X gives an in depth look at Madonna’s creativity and allows her to explain her influences and goals. Madonna not only seeks to share the stories and music she’s learned, but she also strives to incorporate political messages. The documentary uses shots of various protests such as Black Lives Matter, marches for Trans Rights, and the Women’s March. It also shows why Madonna remains successful. She gives voice to younger performers such as Diplo and Anitta, and she is passionate about using her voice to speak out on global issues her audiences care about.