The movie Velvet Goldmine is set in London during the time of the Flower Power generation-One of my favorite times in history musically. For those who aren't very familiar with the music in that time David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, Marc Bolan/T.Rex, Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Little Richard, Gary Glitter, Brian Eno, New York Dolls and way too many to count.
The story follows the lives of 5 people. Brian Slade who is loosely based on a few iconic musicians in the 70’s era, David Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, less well-known glam rock musician known as T.Rex, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and other famous glam musicians at the time. Brian's American Turned British Party Girl Wife Mandy Slade, Brian's Lover Curt Wild who has a striking resemblance to Curt Cobain throughout the movie, Former Manager Cecil, and a Journalist Arthur Stewart. Arthur Stewart is a British Journalist that's working for the Herald in New York, who is trying to find Brian Slade in the 80's after he disappeared in the late 70's after he staged his own death during a concert and was proved to be a hoax. Arthur first goes to Brian Slade's ex-manager Cecil who is now aged and has lost his ability to walk. Cecil tells him about how Brian changed from boho acoustic singer to Bisexual Glam Rock Star. Cecil also tells Arthur of how Brian Slade met Curt Wild, A sexual American punk rocker who after undergoing the popular 70's electroshocks treatment meant to "cure" homosexuality, made him lose his mind every time he heard an electric guitar. After seeing Curt Wild and his band The Ratts play on stage with all the sexual angst and freedom, Brian idolizes Curt and starts to change when he gets new management, Jerry Devine who exposes Brian to sex, glitter and drugs, from innocent to vexing transvestite-like bisexual Glam-Rocker with an alter ego Maxwell Demon with a drive for sex, drugs, and raw rock and roll, Who much like David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, is a Space-Age creature turned Rock Star when he lands on earth.
After not being able to get information on where Brian Slade is now, Arthur Stewart turns to Mandy Slade, Brian's Wife. Mandy Goes onto share how they met in the "Swingin' 60's", How both of their lives changed because of Brian's fame and how their marriage started to dissolve after Brian met Curt Wild. Mandy describes Brian's infatuation with Curt as "He wasn’t really in love with Curt, we was in love with the idea of Curt, The image, not even the real Curt.” but also tells that Brian was finally not pretending to be someone else anymore, “For the first time in Brian’s life, he was simply telling it like it was”. After Curt and Brian meet and its obvious that Brian is "falling" in love with Curt, Jerry Devine see's the opportunity to make money off the pair and starts to slowly push Mandy out of the picture and starts to publicize Curt and Brian as if they are the new Mandy and Brian. All the while Mandy is bringing us the past, Arthur starts to have flashbacks of his late teenage years and early adult life, as he struggles to find himself sexually, mentally and his identity.
As Brian ages, we see young Arthur leave home and make his life in London. After the hoax shooting leaves Brian’s career wounded, we see Brian start to change drastically and stop caring about his music. Coming back to his present life Arthur continues to search for clues to where Brian went. Even after Brian’s gone, Curt performs still and is more successful than anticipated since the failed stunt with Brian. The same night Arthur see's Curt perform, he has a sexual encounter with Curt that leaves Arthur confused sexually even in his present day adulthood. With flashbacks haunting him Arthur realizes that with all the fame and fortune, Happiness cannot always be over looked. The real quest in life is to find yourself, find where you are happiest, you cant just let it come to you, you need to seek it out yourself to find the true pure meaning of who you are.
After watching this it made me wish I lived in the Glam Rock era more than I did before. Glam Rock has always been a very large part f my life because I grew up with it and its what ill raise my children with. The movie portrays the good and the bad of being a musician. The way you take parts of your life that are dull and create something beautiful out of it. And how if you let your music consume you it can end either good or bad. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys music from that time period. The soundtrack was also very good, the tracklisting is here if you are interested in looking up the music.
Velvet Goldmine Review for Student Newspaper is currently under construction. Please come back later.