David Bowie: Rare and Unseen
starring David Bowie
MVDvisual / Wienerworld Presentation
There’s the stoned-out-of-his-mind David Bowie in this collection, and there’s the warm, sober, mature David Bowie, and both endure dreadful BBC interviews from the likes of Russell Harty. Either of these Bowies could easily be the most elegant creature England has ever produced, but the stoned one was a bad mix with Harty and a five-second satellite delay that no one was really used to in 1972. In this lengthy early interview Bowie focuses on where Ziggy Stardust lives, but remains completely polite as Harty grills him on what sort of suit he might wear on his next tour. Personally, I would have called in an airstrike on my own position.
Once Harty fades and Bowie is cleaned up and retrospective, he becomes interesting, funny, and open about the indiscretions of his past. In an attempt to cure his addiction, he moves to Berlin, the heroin capital of the world. Yet he survives and continues to produce interesting material, even if he’s not burning up the charts in his orange hair and cast of theatrical persona. Working with Brian Eno, he becomes less an actor and more a musician. Drop-ins by Carlos Alomar, Brian Eno, and Julian Temple add some contrast to this wide ranging documentary, and Peter Frampton and old video clips enforce the artiness of his endeavors. If you can get through the stoned opening segment, this is a fine compilation of interviews and an introduction to Bowie’s inner monologue. If you want to be a rock superstar, you could do worse than emulate him. Just make sure to include that “surviving drugs” part, that’s pretty important.