Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (film)

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Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Ziggy Stardust Motion Picture.jpg
Directed by D.A. Pennebaker
Produced by Tony Defries
Starring David Bowie
Mick Ronson
Trevor Bolder
Mick Woodmansey
Angela Bowie
Music by David Bowie
Cinematography Nick Doob
Randy Franken
Edited by Lorry Whitehead
Production
company
Bewlay Bros.
Mainman
Pennebaker Hegedus Films
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates December 1973 (1973-12)
Running time 90 minutes
Country UK

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1973 documentary and concert movie by D.A. Pennebaker. It features David Bowie and his backing group The Spiders from Mars performing at the Hammersmith Odeon, 3 July 1973. The DVD release was later retitled Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture.

Background[edit]

Bowie had taken the stage persona of Ziggy Stardust, a science fiction based, theatrical, enigmatic, androgynous character and produced two albums during this period. The evening of 3 July was the last show in the English concert tour promoting Bowie's 1973 album Aladdin Sane and the 60th gig in a tour of Britain that started on 12 May, though an American tour was already being booked for the autumn. Very few in Bowie's entourage knew of his decision to drop the Ziggy persona and cancel performing for a while; in the band only Mick Ronson had been told a few days before the final night.

At the end of the evening, aptly just before the song "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide", Bowie announced that, Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it's the last show that we'll ever do. The phrasing was deliberately ambiguous, but most of the audience and many London newspapers and magazines took it to mean that Bowie was retiring from music. In fact, he had killed off his Ziggy persona but not his music career.

Recording[edit]

Pennebaker had been asked to come to London and film just a few songs but when he saw the first of the two London shows he realised that "there was a full-length film here asking to be made". Though he had only scant knowledge of Bowie's music, apart from Space Oddity, he was impressed by the star's onstage charisma and the range of his songs and quickly prepared to shoot the entire second gig, without knowing that it would include a dramatic final coup.[1] Jeff Beck participated on three songs (two of them forming a medley) midway through the concert but was edited out from the final cut at his own wish.[1] The expanded version of "The Width of a Circle" was shortened by a few minutes for the soundtrack on vinyl and CD.

Track listing[edit]

30th Anniversary DVD[edit]

  1. Opening Credits/Intro – Incorporating Beethoven's Ninth Symphony arranged and performed by Wendy Carlos from A Clockwork Orange
  2. "Hang On to Yourself" (Bowie) from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  3. "Ziggy Stardust" (Bowie) from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  4. "Watch That Man" (Bowie) from the album Aladdin Sane
  5. "Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud" (Bowie) from the album Space Oddity
  6. "All the Young Dudes" (Bowie) originally penned for Mott the Hoople
  7. "Oh! You Pretty Things" (Bowie) from the album Hunky Dory
  8. "Moonage Daydream" (Bowie) from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  9. "Changes" (Bowie) from the album Hunky Dory
  10. "Space Oddity" (Bowie) from the album Space Oddity
  11. "My Death" (Jacques Brel, Mort Shuman) from the Brel album La Valse à Mille Temps originally written by Brel as "La Mort" and translated into English by Shuman and Eric Blau
  12. "Cracked Actor" (Bowie) from the album Aladdin Sane
  13. "Time" (Bowie) from the album Aladdin Sane
  14. "The Width of a Circle" (Bowie) from the album The Man Who Sold the World
  15. Band introduction – Spoken word
  16. "Let's Spend the Night Together" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) from the Bowie album Aladdin Sane originally performed by The Rolling Stones
  17. "Suffragette City" (Bowie) from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  18. "White Light/White Heat" (Lou Reed) from The Velvet Underground album White Light/White Heat
  19. Farewell Speech – Spoken word
  20. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" (Bowie) from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  21. End Credits – Incorporating Pomp and Circumstance by Edward Elgar

Cast[edit]

Additional musicians:

  • Ken Fordham – saxophone and flute
  • Brian Wilshaw – saxophone and flute
  • Geoffrey MacCormack – backing vocals, percussion
  • John Hutchinson – guitar
  • Mike Garson – piano, organ, Mellotron

Sound recording (original film, soundtrack album and DVD) mixed by Tony Visconti.

Release[edit]

The film was shown a few times at festivals in late 1973 and provoked strong interest and favourable reactions, but then disappeared from view until 1983, when it was released on home video accompanied by a soundtrack double album. Evidently it became a casualty first of Bowie's rapid image changes which left Ziggy and glam rock behind and then of the rupture between Bowie and MainMan in early 1975; after that point Bowie was reluctant to release or promote any new recordings dating from before Young Americans as he would have to give half the income from any such recordings to MainMan up to the end of 1982.

Only in recent years has the film become available for regular cinema presentations; for many years it was a home video exclusive.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b D.A.Pennebaker on the DVD commentary track

External links[edit]