Ziggy Stardust the Starman who fell to earth, back in cinemas
- Credit: Archant
He was one of David Bowie's greatest creations, now the iconic film capturing Bowie's last performance as Ziggy is back on screens in Norfolk.
David Bowie was a man of a thousand faces and multiple musical personalities but none made such a lasting impression on the minds of the world as Ziggy Stardust – the androgens rocker who appeared to have crash-landed on planet Earth from some alternative reality.
This was not so much traditional rock'n'roll but rather an exercise in performance art. After the successful, but seemingly lightweight previous album Hunky Dory, with its radio-friendly singles Changes and Life on Mars, Ziggy Stardust was a dramatic gear-change and a way for Bowie, not only to lose himself inside another persona, but to confound some of the more earnest rock critics looking for read things into his increasingly eclectic output.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, released on June 1972 quickly became David Bowie's biggest selling album to date fuelled by singles such as Starman and John, I'm Only Dancing, Rock'n'Roll Suicide and Suffragette City.
Ziggy Stardust became such a personality that it blurred the line between Bowie and his creation. Was Ziggy real? What was his relationship with David Bowie? For a while pandemonium reigned. Bowie was Ziggy and Ziggy was Bowie.
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In 1972 during a run of concerts in London he jumped on a plane, still dressed as Ziggy Stardust, and flew to New York to see Elvis during his run of four sell-out shows at Madison Square Garden before flying back to London for his own gig. Sat in the fourth row, centre-stage one can only wonder at what Elvis thought of this strange red-rinsed, spiky-haired alien staring back at him.
But, as the months turned into years, Ziggy started to play mind-games with Bowie and during a run of shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in the summer of 1973 Ziggy/Bowie surprisingly announced his retirement from showbusiness.
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No-one, at the time, knew whether the retirement applied to Ziggy or Bowie – or perhaps both. Fortunately film-maker D. A. Pennebaker, who had previously made Don't Look Back with Bob Dylan, was present to capture the drama. He was at the Hammersmith Odeon making a concert film and capturing what turned out to be the final appearance of Ziggy Stardust.
Although the film has cult status, largely because of the clips that have been harvested from the footage, very few people have seen the film on the big screen but now the recently launched event cinema company, CinEvents is changing all that.
Because of problems with the complex sound-mix and Bowie's reluctance to help with post-production because he 'wanted nothing more to do with Ziggy' the film wasn't given a release until 1979 when it had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
After a rapturous critical reception it then lay in a distributors no-man's land before it was given a limited cinema release in 1983 before being used to spearhead the home video boom in the mid-80s.
Now Cine-Events are returning the historic film to the big screen on March 7 as celebration of the life and music of David Bowie. In addition to the iconic D. A. Pennebaker film, music magazine Mojo will also be screening a newly commissioned movie of their own.
This film will feature MOJO's Editor-In-Chief Phil Alexander in conversation with The Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey, whose own memoir, My Life With Bowie: Spider From Mars, has just been published by Sidgwick & Jackson. As well as re-living that fateful night in 1973, Woody will provide further insight into what he describes as 'the adventure of a lifetime.'
The film will be screened in multiplex and independent cinemas across the UK and Europe on the same evening to create an international event.
D.A. Pennebaker's film acts like a window onto the past placing a 21st century audience at the heart of Bowie's final show as Ziggy allowing them to experience the 1970s audience shock as Bowie/Ziggy unexpectedly announces 'it's the last show we'll ever do'.
Those attending the screenings will also be given a special Bowie-Ziggy-era Mojo magazine which will feature an exclusive David Bowie/Spiders From Mars Collectors' Cover and which will not be available in the shops.
• For details of participating cinemas visit www.ziggystardust-cinevents.comScary Monsters and Super Creeps
East Anglian print collective Off The Press are currently holding a David Bowie exhibition at the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds. The show, displaying works by local artists, aims to capture the various identities of David Bowie. The exhibition, in the cinema's bar, will be available to cinemagoers attending the Ziggy Stardust screening.
Exhibition organisers James Treadaway, Sam Foley and Anna Bird said the idea behind the exhibition is to have a show which explores the various looks that David Bowie had over the years: from the bubble-perm of the late-1960s, through the glam-rock years of the mid-70s, to the 80s Thin White Duke right up to the austere look of Blackstar and Tin Machine.
'David Bowie is visually so rich that we knew our artists would have a lot of fun with this show,' said James. 'Nineteen artists created work for this show – which we have called Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. I think that says a lot about the importance of Bowie as an artist and why they wanted to create new work to remember someone who thrived on creating new work and spent a lifetime reinventing himself so he never became stale or predictable.'