A documentary cobbled together from interview clips and archival footage finds the legendary rocker and master of reinvention David Bowie meditating on his life and music.
While it may be a strictly low-budget affair, somewhat clumsily edited and (clearly for rights reasons) featuring a soundtrack of mediocre covers, hardcore fans will still find much to love about David Bowie Rare and Unseen. The hour-long film is mostly comprised of two long, hard-to-find interviews: The first, conducted via satellite by the British talk-show host Russell Hardy, shows Bowie at the height of his mid-’70s drug-abuse nightmare, twitching awkwardly and saying things like “I don’t talk to anybody.” But it’s the other conversation, filmed during his late-’90s Earthling period that is truly illuminating. A candid, funny 50-something Bowie discusses everything from the bad behavior evidenced in the earlier interview to the time he spent with Iggy Pop in Berlin to his particular musical obsessions (Harry Partch, Kraut rock).
There are other elements to Rare and Unseen: a flirtatious backstage interview from the late ’70s, some behind-the-scenes footage from the ’80s (which features Bowie trying to look tough in a black leather jacket, light-wash jeans, and a variation on the Flock of Seagulls haircut), and a lovefest of an interview with one-time Bowie schoolmate Peter Frampton. What really makes this unauthorized documentary worth seeing, though, is the jarring way it juxtaposes coke-crazed ’70s Bowie, ’80s golden-boy Bowie, and ’90s/’00s elder statesman Bowie.
Click through for a gallery of stills and clips from the movie.