For more Bowie action, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's David Bowie Is exhibition. Free with UCID.
(D.A. Pennebaker, 1973) · On July 3, 1973, Ziggy Stardust committed Rock 'n' Roll Suicide. Bowie axed off his star persona at London's Hammersmith Odeon Theater and began a new chapter of his career. After retiring Ziggy, Bowie's back catalogue had a resurgence, paving the way for Young Americans. Pennebaker shot Ziggy's swan song without knowing it would be his exiting act (even Bowie's band was left in the dark). Though Ziggy died young and pretty, the doc still rocks.
runtime: 90 min format: 35mm
(Nicolas Roeg, 1976) · Bowie's feature film debut finds the androgynous rock star as a new breed of alien: a visitor from the planet Anthea who comes to Earth in search of water. Some may argue that Bowie plays a variant of himself—a gaunt outsider alienated by Western civilization but dependent upon its resources. After having turned down multiple offers to star in rocksploitation films, Bowie announced himself as a serious actor, surrendering himself to Roeg's vision.
runtime: 138 min format: 35mm
(Martin Scorsese, 1988) · After falling to Earth as a christ-like figure in 1976, Bowie reimagines himself here as Pontius Pilate. A dream project of Scorsese's childhood, this rendition of the life of Jesus was realized on a modest budget of $7 million. Adapted by Paul Schrader from Nikos Kazantzakis's controversial novel, the film likewise provoked a scandal, stoked by luridly exaggerated reports of a scene where Jesus hallucinates a sexual encounter with Mary Magdalene.
runtime: 164 min format: 35mm
(Tony Scott, 1983) · It could have been a punk rock concert or a heroin-chic fashion shoot. Arousal and violence are closely linked. When the music shifts to classical, Scott hints that while civilization has changed over the centuries, the vampires haven't. For some, vampirism becomes a degenerative disease, and a medical researcher points her lab at the problem. Something terrible is transmitted by blood. The Hunger was made a year after the world learned of AIDS.
runtime: 97 min format: 35mm
(John Landis, 1985) · Ed Okin, in a career-best performance by Jeff Goldblum, can't sleep. He's a wreck at work and his wife is cheating on him, so he drives to LAX, hoping to get away from it all. But into his car leaps Michelle Pfeiffer, fleeing from some very dangerous smugglers. Now, they're running through an L.A. nightmare populated by spies, Elvis-impersonators, and terrorists, but all Okin wants is a good night's rest. Don't miss Bowie's turn as a terrifying British assassin.
runtime: 115 min format: 35mm
(Jim Henson, 1986) · Muppets creator Jim Henson turns dark with his final feature film, a flop upon its first release but now recognized as a classic piece of Bowieana. Everyone's favorite legend of song and cinema plays Jareth the Goblin King, who kidnaps a baby boy and threatens to transform him into one of his minions. Sarah, the captive's teenage sister, is determined to rescue him, but will she be able to make it through Jareth's sinister labyrinth in time?
runtime: 101 min format: 35mm
(Nagisa Oshima, 1983) · East meets West as Nagisa Oshima pits rock stars of two worlds against one other: Bowie as the British officer and Ryuichi Sakamoto as the Japanese Captain in charge of a Japanese WWII-era POW camp. An unspoken attraction develops between the honor-bound Bowie and the curt Sakamoto. Oshima's first English-language film doesn't even bother with the surface drama of war or POW movies, instead focusing on the root causes of the violent instincts at hand.
runtime: 124 min format: 35mm
(Ulrich Edel, 1981) · Based upon a non-fiction book of the same name by Ulrich Edel, Christiane F. tells the story of the drug world of West Berlin in the 1970s as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl. Christiane's obsession with David Bowie inspired Bowie to not only appear in the film but also to compose the soundtrack. The film's near-immediate elevation to cult status helped to bring conversations about heroin to the forefront in Western Europe.
runtime: 138 min format: 35mm
(Ben Stiller, 2001) · Derek Zoolander's winning streak as VH1'S Top Model of the Year comes to an end when the so-hot-right-now Hansel nabs the title. To defend his honor, Derek challenges Hansel to a duel. To settle who is the really, really ridiculously good-looking model, Bowie officiates the epic Walk Off in what may be one of the best cameos of all time. After his embarrassing defeat, Derek must rehab his image and resist the brainwashing plot of fashion mogul Mugatu.
runtime: 89 min format: 35mm