ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
directed by D.A. Pennebaker
runs Dec. 13-19 at Varsity
MANY AMONG MY generation suffer from what, for these purposes, we shall diagnose as Auto-Nostalgic Asphyxiation: They literally suffocate themselves with the past. Not without good reason, you understand, but still—strangulation is strangulation, regardless of how starved we are for convincing pop icons. One of the leading causes of the dreaded A.N.A. syndrome is David Bowie, or rather, Ziggy Stardust.
In this restored 1973 concert documentary, which has claimed many victims of A.N.A., director D.A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back, Monterey Pop) first rolls tape on Ziggy backstage, where the eye-shadowed androgynous beauty reports, apropos of nothing, "My mother saw her first spaceship." Legends being legends and most certainly not just men, this odd and off-the-cuff remark sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the film. So OK, Ziggy Stardust has a mom, but damn, his mom sees spaceships. I don't know about yours, but my mom never sees spaceships. The film captures Bowie's last-ever performance as Ziggy, a stunning sold-out London show that includes hits like "Changes" and "All the Young Dudes" plus more swooning girls and costume changes than any two-bit Justin Timberlake tour manager could even imagine.
With better legs than even Tina Turner, better songs than the New York Dolls, better jackets than Jack-o or Elton John, and with Mick Ronson's grandiose guitar playing backing him up, Ziggy Stardust is, was, and—thanks to this digitally remastered new print—will always be the pre-eminent bombastic pop star. He inspired everyone from Joy Division's Ian Curtis to M�y Cre's Vince Neil to local bands like the Turn-Ons and the Makers.
Thirty years later, Ziggy Stardust is still what everyone is practically dying to be. I'm predicting another outbreak of the A.N.A. epidemic.