MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR LAWRENCE
1983, Janus Film, 123 min, UK/New Zealand/Japan, Dir: Nagisa Oshima

In this captivating, skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies Celliers, a British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Rock star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti is the British lieutenant colonel Lawrence, who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between captor and prisoner. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role, MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash, and one of Oshima’s greatest successes.


ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
1973, Pennebaker Hegedus Films, 90 min, UK, Dir: D.A. Pennebaker

Director D.A. Pennebaker’s filmic record of David Bowie’s brain-frying final concert as his Ziggy Stardust incarnation in July 1973 is key evidence why Bowie was suddenly catapulted to slavish cult adoration. A bridge between cult fetish and massive popular appeal right before the record industry (and the Thin White Duke himself) homogenized the pop star’s image into something less threatening.


THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
1976, Rialto Pictures, 139 min, UK, Dir: Nicolas Roeg

This stylish cult favorite stars rocker David Bowie (in his feature debut) as the exotic and mysterious Thomas Jerome Newton - an extraterrestrial hoping to save his drought-ravaged planet. With his advanced technology, Newton easily amasses wealth and power, but he has considerably more trouble dealing with human desires and fears. Enigmatic and beautiful, this is one of the most distinctive sci-fi films of the 1970s. Costarring Rip Torn, Candy Clark and Buck Henry.


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