Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Todd Haynes|
|Produced by||Christine Vachon
|Written by||Todd Haynes
James K. Lyons
|Narrated by||Janet McTeer|
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Editing by||James Lyons|
|Studio||Newmarket Capital Group
Channel Four Films
|Distributed by||CiBy Sales (worldwide)
|Release dates||November 6, 1998|
|Running time||124 minutes|
Velvet Goldmine is a 1998 British drama film directed and co-written by Todd Haynes. The film is set in Britain during the days of glam rock in the early 1970s; it tells the story of a pop star based mainly on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character.
The story follows a British journalist, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), who revisits his own past while writing an article about the mysterious disappearance of a former glam rock star, Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), for an American periodical. Slade's career had ended during backlash from a publicity stunt: he faked being murdered onstage, after which he gradually disappeared from the public view entirely. Stuart locates and talks with people connected to Slade, trying to find out what happened to him, and recalls the glam rock scene of the '70s in a series of vignettes, which recreate the stories of Slade, Slade's collaborator and onetime lover Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor), Slade's former wife, Mandy (Toni Collette) and others involved in their lives. The film utilizes a non-linear structure to interweave the stories of the various characters.
- Janet McTeer as Voice of Narrator
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade
- Christian Bale as Arthur Stuart
- Ewan McGregor as Curt Wild
- Toni Collette as Mandy Slade
- Eddie Izzard as Jerry Devine
- Emily Woof as Shannon
- Joseph Beattie as Cooper
- Michael Feast as Cecil
The film centers on Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a bisexual glam rock icon patterned after David Bowie and, to a lesser extent, Marc Bolan. Ewan McGregor co-stars in the role of Curt Wild, a genre-defying performer who doesn't back down from sex, nudity, or drugs on or off stage, and whose biographical details are based on Iggy Pop (who grew up in a trailer park) and Lou Reed (whose parents sent him to electroshock therapy to 'cure' his homosexual feelings). Also featured are Christian Bale as a young glam rock fan and reporter, Arthur Stuart; Toni Collette as Slade's wife, Mandy; Eddie Izzard as his manager, Jerry Devine; and Luke Morgan Oliver as a young Oscar Wilde.
The tale strongly parallels Bowie's relationships with Reed and Pop in the 1970s and 1980s. Brian Slade's gradually overwhelming on-stage persona of "Maxwell Demon" and his backing band, "Venus in Furs", likewise bear a resemblance to Bowie's persona and backing band. The album, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, tells a similar story of a rock star gone over the edge, and culminates in his assassination. As with Slade and Wild, Bowie produced records for, and with, both Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. The band name "Venus in Furs" is taken from a song by Lou Reed's early band, The Velvet Underground, which itself was taken from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel by the same name, which appeared on their first album. Maxwell Demon was the name of an early band of Brian Eno, a long-time Bowie associate, whose music is heard at various points in the film.
Haynes has said that the story is also about the love affair between America and Britain, New York and London, in the way each music scene feeds off and influences each other. Little Richard is shown as an early influence on Brian Slade. In real life Little Richard inspired the Beatles and Bowie, who in turn inspired many bands to come after. Little Richard has also been cited by Haynes as the inspiration for Jack Fairy.
The film is strongly influenced by the ideas and life of Oscar Wilde (seen in the film as a progenitor of glam rock), and refers to events in his life and quotes his work on dozens of occasions. The work of Jean Genet (the subject of Haynes' previous film, Poison) is referred to in imagery and also quoted in dialogue.
The narrative structure of the film is modeled on that of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, in that reporter Stuart tries to solve a mystery about Slade, traveling around to interview Slade's lovers and colleagues, whose recollections are shown in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s flashback sequences.
Janet Maslin, having seen the film at the New York Film Festival, made it a "NYT Critics' Pick," calling it "dazzlingly surreal" rock version of "Citizen Kane with an extraterrestrial Rosebud" and saying it "brilliantly reimagines the glam rock 70's as a brave new world of electrifying theatricality and sexual possibility, to the point where identifying precise figures in this neo-psychedelic landscape is almost beside the point. Velvet Goldmine tells a story the way operas do: blazing with exquisite yet abstract passions, and with quite a lot to look at on the side." According to Peter Travers, "Haynes creates Velvet Goldmine..."with a masturbatory fervor that demands dead-on details" and "fashions a structure out of Citizen Kane"; it's a film that "works best as a feast of sight and sound,...re-creating an era as a gorgeous carnal dream,...celebrat[ing] the art of the possible." In a less enthusiastic review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two out of four stars and found its plot too discursive and confusingly assorted because of how it "bogs down in the apparatus of the search for Slade" by clumsily using scenes from Citizen Kane.
The film wasn't successful at the box office, making just $1.5m on a budget of $9m.
In a retrospective review, Slant Magazine's Jeremiah Kipp gave Velvet Goldmine four out of four stars and said that, although unsupportive critics may be "terrified of a movie with so many ideas", the film successfully shows a "melancholic ode to freedom, and those who fight for it through art", because of Haynes' detailed imagery and the cast's "expressive, soulful performances". Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club felt that Haynes' appropriation of structural elements from Citizen Kane is the film's "masterstroke", as it helps "evoke the glam rock movement without destroying the all-important mystique that sustains it." Tobias argued that, like Haynes' Bob Dylan-inspired 2007 film I'm Not There, Velvet Goldmine deals with a famously enigmatic figure indirectly through allusion and imagery, and consequently succeeds more than a simpler biopic could.
Since its 1999 DVD release the film has become a cult classic and "has found an obsessive following among younger audiences." Haynes said in a 2007 interview, "A film that had the hardest time, at least initially, was Velvet Goldmine, and it's the film that seems to mean the most to a lot of teenagers and young people, who are just obsessed with that movie. They're exactly who I was thinking about when I made Velvet Goldmine, but it just didn't get to them the first time around." The Blu-ray disc version of the film was released in Region A on December 13, 2011, and includes a newly recorded commentary track by director Todd Haynes and producer Christine Vachon. In it Haynes thanks the fansites for helping him compile the notes for the commentary.
Awards and nominations
- 1998 Cannes Film Festival - Best Artistic Contribution - Todd Haynes; nominated for Golden Palm
- 1999 Academy Awards - nominated for Best Costume Design (Sandy Powell)
- 1999 BAFTA Awards - Best Costume Design - Sandy Powell; nominated for Best Make Up/Hair (Peter King)
- 1999 Independent Spirit Awards - Best Cinematography - Maryse Alberti; nominated for Best Director (Todd Haynes) and Best Feature
- 1998 Edinburgh International Film Festival - Channel 4 Director's Award - Todd Haynes
- 1999 GLAAD Media Awards - Outstanding Film (Limited Release)
- 1999 MOVIELINE Young Hollywood Award - Best Song in a Motion Picture - Hot One - Nathan Larson
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Released||3 November 1998|
|Genre||Glam rock, soundtrack|
|Label||Fontana Records London|
|Producer||Randall Poster, Todd Haynes, Michael Stipe|
The finished soundtrack includes songs by glam rock and glam-influenced bands, past and present.
The English musicians who played under the name The Venus in Furs on the soundtrack were Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, David Gray, Suede's Bernard Butler, and Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. The American musicians who played as Curt Wild's Wylde Ratttz on the soundtrack were The Stooges' Ron Asheton, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley, Minutemen's Mike Watt, Gumball's Don Fleming, and Mark Arm of Mudhoney.
The soundtrack features new songs written for the film by Pulp, Shudder to Think and Grant Lee Buffalo, as well as many early glam rock compositions, both covers and original versions. The Venus in Furs covers several Roxy Music songs with Thom Yorke channeling Bryan Ferry on vocals, Placebo covers T. Rex's "20th Century Boy," Wylde Ratttz and Ewan McGregor cover The Stooges' "T.V. Eye" and "Gimme Danger", and Teenage Fanclub and Donna Matthews cover The New York Dolls' "Personality Crisis." Lou Reed, Brian Eno, T. Rex, and Steve Harley songs from the period are also included. The album is rounded out by a piece of Carter Burwell's film score.
All three members of the band Placebo also appeared in the film, with Brian Molko and Steve Hewitt playing members of the Flaming Creatures (Malcolm and Billy respectively) and Stefan Olsdal playing Polly Small's bassist.
- Brian Eno: "Needle In The Camel's Eye" (Brian Eno/Phil Manzanera) – 3:09
- Shudder To Think: "Hot One" (Nathan Larson/Shudder To Think) – 3:04
- Placebo: "20th Century Boy" (Marc Bolan) – 3:42
- Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "2HB" (Bryan Ferry) – 5:39
- Wylde Ratttz (vocals by Ewan McGregor): "T.V. Eye" (Dave Alexander/Scott Asheton/Ron Asheton/James Osterberg, Jr.) – 5:24
- Shudder To Think: "Ballad of Maxwell Demon" (Craig Wedren/Shudder to Think) – 4:47
- Grant Lee Buffalo: "The Whole Shebang" (Grant-Lee Phillips) – 4:11
- Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "Ladytron" (Bryan Ferry) – 4:26
- Pulp: "We Are The Boyz" (Cocker/Banks/Doyle/Mackey/Webber) – 3:13
- Roxy Music: "Virginia Plain" (Bryan Ferry) – 3:00
- Teenage Fanclub & Donna Matthews: "Personality Crisis" (David Johansen/Johnny Thunders) – 3:49
- Lou Reed: "Satellite Of Love" (Lou Reed) – 3:41
- T. Rex: "Diamond Meadows" (Marc Bolan) – 2:00
- Paul Kimble & Andy Mackay: "Bitters End" (Bryan Ferry) – 2:13
- Venus in Furs (vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers): "Baby's On Fire" (Brian Eno) – 3:19
- Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "Bitter-Sweet" (Andy Mackay/Bryan Ferry) – 4:55
- Carter Burwell: "Velvet Spacetime" (Carter Burwell) – 4:10
- Venus in Furs (vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers): "Tumbling Down" (Steve Harley) – 3:28
- Steve Harley: "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Steve Harley) – 3:59
Connections to other works
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
- The title of the movie takes its name from the song "Velvet Goldmine", written by David Bowie.
- The film's disclaimer reads "Although what you are about to see is a work of fiction, it should nevertheless be played at maximum volume," an allusion to David Bowie's album Ziggy Stardust, which contains the legend: "To be played at maximum volume."
- The name of the lead character, Brian Slade, is an allusion to the 1970s glam band, Slade. Slade's persona "Maxwell Demon" was named after Brian Eno's first band, which itself was influenced by James Clerk Maxwell's thought experiment character, "Maxwell's demon".
- Curt Wild's backing band, The Rats, shares its name with one of Mick Ronson's earliest groups. It also alludes to Iggy Pop's band, The Stooges in that both words share a similar meaning ("rat" and "stooge" both being terms for someone who is an informer).
- The scene where couples are shown walking into the Sombrero Club on New Year's Eve 1969 is similar to a shot of people entering a party from Welles' film The Magnificent Ambersons.
- Maxwell Demon's guitarist shares the same last name, Finn, as T. Rex percussionist Mickey Finn.
- "Venus in Furs" is a reference to a Velvet Underground song of the same name, whose title and lyrics in turn reference a novel of that name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
- Flaming Creatures is also the name of Jack Smith's seminal piece of gay cinema.
- Much of the script consists of quotations from various works of Oscar Wilde, and several of the scenes involving the character Jack Fairy reference the novels of Jean Genet.
- The bleak, dystopian feel of the action taking place in 1984 alludes to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, to Bowie's own dystopian song of the same name, and to Bowie's reinvention of himself as a mainstream entertainer during the Reagan and Thatcher era.
- The "pantomime dame" from the vaudeville troupe is played by influential dancer Lindsay Kemp, a former teacher of Bowie's who collaborated with him on several music videos, including "John, I'm Only Dancing".
- The little girl on the train is reading "Antigonish" (a poem by William Hughes Mearns), which was inspiration for David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World".
- Arthur Stuart's boss has mydriasis in his left eye, much like David Bowie's.
- "The Ballad of Maxwell Demon" contains the lyrics: "The boys from Quadrant 44 with their vicious metal hounds never come 'round here no more," referencing Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451. This is likely an allusion to Bowie basing an entire album (Diamond Dogs) to the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- The scene near the middle of the film that portrays Slade and Wild about to make love as Barbie Dolls, pay homage to Haynes' earlier work in Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which was acted out primarily with the dolls.
- "Limping with the Stooges in Washington Heights" in The Brooklyn Rail
- Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (1996)
- Moverman, Oren (1998) "Superstardust: Talking Glam with Todd Haynes", an interview in the introduction of Velvet Goldmine, A Screenplay by Todd Haynes, Hyperion: New York
- Ashare, Matt (9 November 1998). "'Velvet Goldmine' stirs up the glam past". Boston Phoenix.
- Maslin, Janet (October 1, 1998). "Glittering Ode to the Days of Ziggy Stardust". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- Travers, Peter (April 18, 2001). "Velvet Goldmine". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- Ebert, Roger (6 November 1998). "Velvet Goldmine Movie Review & Film Summary (1998)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Kipp, Jeremiah (25 March 2004). "Velvet Goldmine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Tobias, Scott (February 5, 2009). "The New Cult Canon: Velvet Goldmine". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- "Glam’s Velvet Goldmine Marks End of McCarren’s Film Season" in "Encore New York"
- Lim, Dennis (12 January 2012). "'Velvet Goldmine,' 'Mildred Pierce' capture director's interests". L.A. Times.
- "Todd Haynes Interview" in "A.V. Club"
- "Todd Haynes talks Velvet Goldmine Blu-ray Release" in "Indiewire"
- "Festival de Cannes: Velvet Goldmine". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
- Awards for Velvet Goldmine, IMDb.
- "Making of Velvet Goldmine". DVD.
- Guthmann, Edward (6 November 1998). "The Glitter of Glam Rock Doesn't Look Like Much Fun". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. C–1
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Velvet Goldmine: Review", AllMusic.com.
- Velvet Goldmine: The Movie - The Ziggy Stardust Companion
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Velvet Goldmine|
- Official website
- Velvet Goldmine at the Internet Movie Database
- Velvet Goldmine at allmovie
- Velvet Goldmine at Box Office Mojo
- Velvet Goldmine at Rotten Tomatoes
- Review of Velvet Goldmine Original Soundtrack () from Allmusic
- Varda the Message, a trivia site mentioned by Todd Haynes in the Blu-ray commentary