Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh! You Pretty Things... David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor

The photos in yesterday's post got me thinking about androgyny.  I've always been fascinated by men and women who do not fit into an obviously defined masculine/feminine schema.

I believe I was in my late teens when I discovered my older brother's David Bowie albums that he'd left behind when he moved out of the family home.  David Bowie rocked the world with his avant garde appearance and music in the 1970s.  One of his earliest albums, The Man Who Sold The World, features him with long hair wearing a dress on the cover:

I've always loved this image.  I think he looks gorgeous and sexy and in your face original.  His early music was that way too.  Space Oddity, Hunky Dory, and The Man Who Sold The World are my favorites.  Once he hit the eighties, his music and look became much more mainstream and, to me, boring.

Iggy Pop, a punk icon, in his early days brought a dangerous and sexy energy to the music scene:

The movie, Velvet Goldmine, was written to portray the early careers of David Bowie and Iggy Pop.

Written by Todd Haynes and James Lyons, starring the beautiful and talented Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor (as well as Toni Colette, Eddie Izzard and Christian Bale), it is a lyrical exploration of the rise of glam rock and more permissive attitudes toward homosexuality and bisexuality among 70's youth.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers is outstanding as Brian Slade (Bowie) and Ewan McGregor displays a raw, explosive energy as the unstable Curt Wilde (Pop).

Together, they evince a tender and sensual attraction to each other amidst the excitement of emerging pop careers.  When things go downhill and reality intrudes, the bittersweet endings are portrayed with a genuine regret and confusion. This is paralleled by the more conservative commercialism that came into play during the eighties and wiped out the boundary-pushing experimentation pervasive in the seventies.

For anyone who enjoyed the glam rock explosion or who gets a charge out of seeing two gorgeous and gifted actors portray androgynous bisexual lovers, this movie is a must see.  Overblown, lyrical and romantic, it is not to everyone's tastes.  But it remains one of my favourite movies.  The soundtrack alone lifts it above the ordinary and features the voices of the actors themselves on many tracks.  I highly recommend it as well.

Here is a link to Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade (David Bowie) channeling his stage persona, Maxwell Demon (Ziggy Stardust), to perform The Ballad of Maxwell Demon.  It is both an homage to, and a satire of, glam rock in all its psychedelic insanity and sexual ambiguity.  And for something quite different, here is Ewan McGregor as Curt Wilde (Iggy Pop), performing TV Eye.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe I haven't seen Velvet Goldmine yet. Great post today, I really enjoyed it. But I have to say you left out one very influential band... The New York Dolls!! The epitome of glam rock :) Thanks for a blast from the past. It's off to youtube for me! *humming NYD on the way*

Terry J Cyr Photography said...

Love, love, love this movie. Erotic, sexy, edgy. hot half naked boys with a really great story, amazingly filmed.

Elizabeth Lister said...

Yes, half naked Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers do marvelous things for a film, don't they? I also think Eddie Izzard and Toni Colette were fabulous. And the costume design was incredible too. What a great movie!