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This blog post is about Major Tom. Ziggy Stardust. Starman. The Thin White Duke. The Man Who Fell To Earth.
It’s also about some guy by the name of David Robert Jones, who went by his other name – David Bowie.
It’s sad that this chameleon of a rock god has parted. But in this post I want to celebrate his remarkable career by sharing my favourite Bowie music moments – from the movies.
So, on that train of thought – Let’s dance…
If there was one film where Bowie is remembered, it’s his role as the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986). A sweet fantasy adventure film where, for people who are now in their mid 30s, will remember fondly as the film of their childhood. And the music he wrote and performed in the film is brilliant. ‘Underground’ and ‘Magic Dance’ are wonderful pop songs.
Like the innovative transformer he was, Bowie played other various characters in movies. From the detached but uber-cool vampire in Tony Scotts’ film’The Hunger’ to playing the lead role in ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’.
He’s had some memorable cameos too. I remember watching him in a small part as the calculated hitman in the under-rated John Landis comedy ‘Into The Night’ (pictured below) which starred Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pieffer. He’s even played next to Jesus Christ (not in the biblical sense. JC was played by Wilem Dafoe), taking on the role of Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorseses’ controversial ‘The Last Temptation Of Christ’.
Other Bowie cameos include playing an FBI agent in ‘Twin Peaks – Fire Come Walk With Me‘ and a fashion guru in ‘Zoolander’. Also small roles in ‘The Prestige’ and playing famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol (most appropriate) in ‘Basqiuat’.
So, here’s some of my favourite movie moments where the music of David Bowie plays a key part:
‘Underground’ from the movie Labyrinth (1986)
This joyful tune rises above the so-called underground, humming and jumping along with that sweet saxophone and sassy piano. Then the Gospel Choir chime in and clap along on the chorus, as a playful Bowie sings about getting himself out of here. All you Labyrinth film-lovers sing Hallelujah.
‘Absolute Beginners’ from the movie of the same name (1985).
It’s the theme tune of the film – set in London during the Notting Hill race riots of 1955. I’ve always liked this Bowie track. Grand, classy and sumptuous, even though the film is set in the 50s, whenever I hear this song – I’m transferred right back to the 80s.
‘Space Oddity’ from the The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2014)
The moment when Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) takes affirmative action with the help of David Bowies’ ‘Space Oddity’ sung by Kiirsten Wig. Ground Control to Major Tom. Commencing countdown engines on…
‘Starman’ from The Martian (2015)
Totally appropriate. Hats off to Ridley Scott and the editors who edited this lovely sequence to the songs’ entirety.
‘Golden Years’ from A Knights’ Tale (2001)
The classic song doesn’t appear till 2mins and 5 seconds into the video, and the image is fuzzy, but you get the idea. It starts off like Game Of Thrones and then slowly turns into a Saturday Night Fever disco. It’s Superfly Bowie at his soul-train best. The track is cool and luscious, you could all go down and get funky with it. Even in medieval times.
‘Under Pressure’ from Gross Pointe Blanke (1995)
Professional hitman John Cusack goes back home for his high school reunion – and gets a big reality check – from a little baby. Bowies’ words ring loud and true at that precise moment. And it’s a wonderful little moment.
‘This Is Not America’ from The Falcon & The Snowman (1985)
David Bowie and Pat Metheny combined to create this dark and moody track, to accompany this film – where Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton act as spies for the Russians. The song just leaks of deception, secrets and espionage. I can imagine this being on Edward Snowdens’ playlist. One of my favourite Bowie songs.
‘Cat People’ from Inglourious Basterds (2008)
Quentin Tarrantino nails it with this great Bowie track – which was actually made for another movie (Cat People). The final act of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ starts with this sequence. Bowies’ lyrics and his singing fit brilliantly with Melanie Laurents’ epic act of revenge against Hitler and those damn Nazis – by burning them all to Hell.
So there’s my favs. Am sure you have your Bowie favourites. Be great to know.
So long Ziggy.