Like everyone, we’re shocked and saddened by the death of David Bowie, rock god extraordinaire and cultural icon. Bowie was a true renaissance man who dabbled in music, performance, games, and yes, film. Attempting to quantify all his contributions to the arts is a fool’s errand, but we want to at least acknowledge some of the excellent work on film by a man described by Vice as “fascinated with the moving image.”
Everyone probably knows David Bowie best on the screen in the iconic role of Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. If that’s any indication, his film choices were eclectic. He also played the starring role in the Japanese World War II movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (HU DVD 10689) and was the centerpiece of the ethereal, influential The Man Who Fell to Earth (HU DVD 2658). And you might not recognized his brief appearance as inventor Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (HU DVD 3831).
Don’t forget the countless times other actors and filmmakers have paid tribute to Bowie’s work, most notably the David Bowie-themed episode of the HBO series Flight of the Conchords (HU DVD 4831). There’s also Velvet Goldmine (HU DVD 687), a film based so closely on David Bowie that the rock star nearly sued the production.
And of course, see Bowie’s self-effacing cameo in Ricky Gervais’s Extras (embedded above, also HU DVD 2992).
We’re glad Bowie brought his enormous talents to film. It’s a shame that he never got behind the camera apart from his music videos.