Way back in 1992, Nine Inch Nails released the Broken EP, perhaps Trent Reznor's most purely aggressive album to date. One year later, Reznor partnered with Peter Christopherson (founding member of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle) to create an incredibly realistic, disturbing, snuff-style film featuring the music of Broken as its soundtrack. Due to the highly graphic footage in the film, it was never officially released — though one video for "Happiness in Slavery" included on the 1997 VHS overview Closure gave fans a taste of the horror show contained within the full Broken film. In fact, Reznor was reportedly quoted as saying that the Broken film "makes 'Happiness in Slavery' look like a Disney movie."
Broken has since seen a number of unofficial releases — it was widely bootlegged from the original VHS copies, and Trent Reznor himself is believed to have leaked a high-quality DVD disc image on The Pirate Bay in December of 2006. Now, the entire 20-minute Broken film was posted to the NIN Tumblr today, marking the first official release of the controversial and rare footage. If you're interested in seeing what all the fuss was about over the last 20 years, check out the video below — but be warned: this footage is extremely graphic.
Update: Rob Sheridan, art director for NIN and member of Reznor's new band How To Destroy Angels, has posted his own memories of finding the Broken film on a bootlegged VHS many years ago. While he touches on the gruesome content contained in the film, he also raises the interesting point that the Broken phenomenon isn't really possible in this day and age. "When I was a teenager, this was a thing of forbidden wonder — the type of alt-culture urban legend that isn't technically possible anymore," Sheridan writes. "Kids today can't possibly appreciate the feeling of tracking down a rare video artifact, because everything now is a mere Google search away."
Update 3:25pm: "And just like that, the Broken movie returns to the underground" — so says the official NIN Twitter account, which confirms that Vimeo has pulled it down for a terms of service violation. We're guessing it was due to "excessive violence." We're reaching out to both Vimeo and NIN for comment on the video being pulled and will let you know if we hear anything.
And just like that, the Broken movie returns to the underground. We tried. twitter.com/nineinchnails/…— Nine Inch Nails (@nineinchnails) May 6, 2013