askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
[personal profile] askygoneonfire
Yesterday I went to the V&A for the David Bowie Is exhibition.  I bought my tickets in September when the exhibition was first announced and I'm not even a little bit surprised it has given the V&A the biggest pre-sales ever.  

The second half of the exhibition was my favourite, where things were more firmly divided and there was a room dedicated to the Berlin years (including some of David Bowie original paintings!!!), a video room with 3 walls of enormous projections of live performances, and a room dedicated to Bowie's acting career - with a selection of clips running on a loop.  This included a clip from his stage performance of the critically acclaimed The Elephant Man which was really moving and makes me inclined to write to the BBC (the clip was credited to the BBC archive) and beg them to release it on DVD. (you can see the same clip here from 2:11)  There was also a clip from Bowie's first Art School-esq film which was delightful.

Everything else on the loop, except The Prestige, I've seen, multiple times.  So, I've ordered The Prestige on DVD and I'm rewatching everything else.  Starting with the first Bowie movie I ever watched; Labyrinth.

Labyrinth (1986)

The opening credits take me right back to my first ever viewing; laying on the floor of my friend's living room at a pajama party.  Being absolutely mesmerised by the (now looking very low tech CGI) flying owl and captivated from the off by the music.  Refusing to go home at 8pm, choosing instead to remain glued to the screen until the end of the film.

And then, just as we're warming to Sarah for hating babies (an impassioned position I continue to occupy to this day with a few exceptions allowed over the years for family and friend's babies) there he is, all glitter and eyeliner.  I don't remember being afraid of Jareth; he's surely the most non-threatening of baddies.  More accurately I remember being then, as now, mesmerised.  The crystal manipulation (famously done by a man standing behind Bowie with his arms under Bowie's armpits) remains a delightful trick and, as with many Henson productions, maintains its magic years later thanks to the simplicity of the visual.

Like so many family films of the 80s, there's a lot of cheeky stuff and more than a few lines that would be considered inappropriate - if only because of use of words they just don't allow anymore (see also: Back to the Future and the use of 'shit')  I like that the DVD copy has decent enough audio that the you can understand some of what the goblins who turn over the stones in the maze, things like "You're mother is a fragging aardvark!" always make me laugh.  Concluding with some cracking crotch shots, the beautiful Escher room scene (which involved some crazy ass harnesses for walking around 180 degrees which can be viewing in making of documentaries, if your copy is so endowed) and, of course, the soundtrack there is so much to love about Labyrinth.

There's a lot in Labyrinth I've more or less been chasing since I first saw it; a Ludo to call my own, a flamboyant and gorgeous wardrobe, David Bowie promising to be my slave if I love him and fear him.....usual stuff.  I also admitted to the friend (who wasn't a Bowie fan) who I went to the V&A with yesterday that I've been waiting for 4 years for someone to have a fancy dress party so I can go as Jareth; I think perhaps my 29th birthday this year might be the moment if a fancy dress party doesn't happen before then.

Like many of my peers, Labyrinth is a seminal film for me and continues to be in the hard repeat section of my DVD collection; again, as with many of my peers it even taught me a few things - the meaning of oubliette was recently a BBC quiz show answer which caused twitter to erupt in Labyrinth triumph.  I recently bought The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg which laments Labyrinth as a joke in an otherwise faultless career, which alienated fans at the time.  What Pegg neglects to consider is how many people, like me, grew up with Labyrinth and came to Bowie, if only partially*, through it.



*My first Bowie memory is around age 5 or 6, playing with my brother's hand-me-down 70s space station Lego, singing "Ground control to Major Tom, commencing countdown, engines on, check ignition....."  Obviously my first Bowie experience was much before then as I'd learnt the lyrics to Space Oddity, but yeah, he get's stuck in your head doesn't he? He's been in my head my whole life.  How wonderful.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
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