Starman and the Silver Screen
As a performer David Bowie was magnetic on screen, and as a composer, innovator and artist his fascination for film fed an insatiable creative drive.
“He was just a very disarming man with such power... a kind of charismatic power, a beauty and extraordinary talent and genius at what he did”
As a performer David Bowie was magnetic on screen, and as a composer, innovator and artist his fascination for film fed an insatiable creative drive, write season co-programmers Rhidian Davis and Leïla Taleb TV made Bowie a star in 1972 when his glam-rock alter-ego Ziggy Stardust beamed alien sex-magic directly into Britain’s living rooms via Top of the Pops. His engagement with film, theatre and design forged his high-concept approach to pop stardom and supercharged the evolution of music video. Bowie’s big-screen acting ambitions were first realised in 1967, but it was in 1976 that brilliant casting made him The Man Who Fell to Earth. He was drawn to learn from great directors, and worked with Nic Roeg, Martin Scorsese, Nagisa Oshima, David Lynch and Alan Clarke. It can be hard to look beyond Bowie ‘the star’ to appreciate the characters he portrayed, but he was always more interested in personas than in the craft of naturalism. Six years on from his passing, Bowie’s star still sparkles brightly.
All film notes by Rhidian Davis and Leïla Taleb, except Baal, which was written by Marcus Prince
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Bowie is a homesick alien trapped in consumerist America in Nic Roeg’s beguiling science fiction drama.
Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars
Ziggy Stardust’s legendary final act captured for ever by the master of direct cinema.
A portrait of the artist as the Thin White Duke in mid-70s LA.
Love and addiction on the streets of Berlin, under the black star of a brooding Bowie soundtrack.
In Tony Scott’s feature debut, Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon star in this stylish gothic horror story set in 20th century New York.
Baal + Pierrot in Turquoise or The Looking Glass Murders
Bertolt Brecht’s first full length play, directed by Alan Clarke, remains the finest example of Bowie in a serious classic dramatic role for UK television.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
An unflinching study of brutality and resistance, fear and desire in a Japanese WWII POW camp, directed with verve by Oshima and starring David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Tom Conti.
1950s London gets an energetic 1980s makeover in Julien Temple’s movie musical for the MTV generation.
Bowie plays the unforgettable Jareth, the Goblin King, opposite a teenage Jennifer Connolly, in this fantasy adventure, directed by Jim Henson.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
The feature-length follow-up to the hit TV series, which stars Bowie in a small but vital role, is a terrifying fever-dream that lives long in the memory.
Artist Julian Schnabel’s directorial debut is a star-studded biopic of Jean Michel Basquiat, a gifted and prolific painter and street artist who died at the age of 27.
A pair of fin-de-siècle showman-magicians duel in their personal and professional lives in an appropriately tricksy thriller, starring Bowie as the enigma Nikola Tesla, directed with panache by Christopher Nolan.
Bowie at Glastonbury 2000
Come and sing along with 200,000 revellers in one of the greatest sets the Pyramid stage has ever seen.
Hooked to the Silver Screen: Bowie at the Movies
A selection of titles that influenced the eclectic artist.
“[Bowie] loved Buñuel, Cocteau, Fassbinder, but then he also loved Tony Hancock and the Ealing comedies. He could watch The Rebel on a weekly basis and he would laugh and laugh and laugh”
David Bowie’s parents first met in a cinema in Tunbridge Wells where his mother worked as an usher. A formative viewing of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at the age of 14 had a great impact and cast a long shadow over Bowie’s imagination, instilling in him a lifelong passion for German Expressionism. Visits to the cinema would prove creative turning points throughout his career, inspiring existing collaborations and sparking new ones. His own serious directorial ambitions were never realised, but he would go on to introduce the basics of filmmaking to his son Duncan Jones, now a successful filmmaker himself.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Kubrick’s cosmic science fiction masterpiece is the ‘ultimate trip’.
A Clockwork Orange
Ultraviolence and state-sponsored mind control are served up with exuberance and verve in Kubrick’s disturbing dystopic masterpiece.
Fritz Lang’s extraordinary expressionist vision of a future city is the grandest science fiction film of the silent era.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari + Un Chien andalou
Delusion, deception and fear are wrought into the very design of the first true horror film.
Fassbinder’s final film is a highly stylised and dream-like tale of sex, betrayal, and murder.
Robert De Niro’s insomniac ex-marine, in rage at the corruption of the civilian world, is a compelling study of male violence.
BUG Special: David Bowie
Adam Buxton and the BUG team present a special show on David Bowie, that charts a fan’s journey through selected special moments in his career.
BUG presents Special Bowie after-party
Join us for a David Bowie after party at Spiritland, Royal Festival Hall 10pm to 2am, where Charlotte Hatherley will be DJing.
Discover more Bowie on the small screen in our free Mediatheque.