“Although what you are about to see is a work of fiction, it should nevertheless be played at maximum volume.” This is the opening graphic (and allusion to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust) from the 1998 film “Velvet Goldmine.” And every time I watch it, this prompts me to knock the volume up a few notches.
Part musical, part rock and roll mythology, this Oscar Wilde-quoting film is all style. I’m not entirely sure why I love this movie so… is it the intoxicating androgyny of Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Or the insanity (and full frontal nudity) of Ewan McGregor? Perhaps it’s the sweet vulnerability of Christian Bale? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the fucking great music.
I will admit that the first couple of times that I watched this movie, I was so distracted by the music that I had no idea what it was about. Allegedly a loose interpretation of the relationship between David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, it follows the musical careers of two glam rockers (Rhys Meyers and McGregor) in the early 70s through the eyes of a young and confused teenager-turned-reporter (Bale). But back to the music.
The soundtrack consists of glam rock covers as well as some original songs. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood provide music for the fictional group Venus in Furs (Rhys Meyers’ band), with Yorke providing the singing voice for Rhys Meyers for a couple of songs. Other musicians on the soundtrack include David Gray, Suede’s Bernard Butler, Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay, The Stooges’ Ron Asheton, and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Placebo covers T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” and all three members appear in the film . There are numerous Roxy Music (I’m a bit obsessed with “Virginia Plain”) and Brian Eno songs and my favorite Lou Reed song, “Satellite of Love.” Alas, David Bowie does not appear on the soundtrack. He apparently did not like the script and did not want to be involved in the project.
Aside from the music, there are feathers, glitter, pretty boys kissing and Eddie Izzard. If you have Netflix, you can stream it online. If not, you can watch it for FREE with an IMDb account courtesy of Hulu. Pretty fucking cool. So go put on some lipstick, turn the volume up to 11 and prepare to rock your face off… glam style.
Photo Credit: tvtropes.org