Such sad news to wake up to this morning. The world is in shock after hearing of the loss of music legend, creative genius and beloved hero, David Bowie. He was the face of British popular culture and a true artist.
I’m not usually one to talk about the death of a celebrity, and as much as I find it sad when any life is lost, I often don’t feel it as keenly as others clearly do. I’m feeling awfully sad today though, perhaps because of the shock of the news, and perhaps because of the incredible impact Bowie had on the music, film, art and fashion industries.
I’ve had the radio on lots as usual, and it’s been amazing to hear all the stories and tributes to Bowie, not to mention such a large sampling of his work. I remember thinking when I finally watched Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes a couple of years ago, about the huge expanse of his work and its influences on other artists. In fact, I just heard an interview with Michael Eavis, who put Bowie up there with Elvis and Sinatra, and I think he’s right when he says that there’ll never be anyone like him.
As a child of the early eighties, and like many of my peers, the film Labyrinth was my introduction to Bowie. Few films were watched half as often as this one in our home, the themes and ideas in it resonating throughout my childhood as well as in my own creativity. The Escher-inspired staircase… the twisted fairytale story… the outrageous, but somehow completely perfect costumes, hair and make-up… the beautiful but frightening masquerade ball… and of course, Bowie’s immaculate soundtrack…
And so, by way of a tribute, and to bring a smile at a sad time, I thought I’d share some of my favourite moments from Labyrinth….
“It’s a crystal. Nothing more. But if you turn it this way and look into it, it will show you your dreams. But this is not a gift for an ordinary girl who takes care of a screaming baby.”
Maybe this was the start of my love for all things shiny, hours spent in crystal shops and even longer spent trying (and failing) to master this trick….
“You remind me of the babe.”
“The babe with the power.”
“The power of voodoo.”
“Remind me of the babe.”
Surely one of the most memorable introductions to a musical film scene ever…I defy anyone not to bop along to this track….
“I’ll paint you mornings of gold.
I’ll spin you Valentine evenings.
Though we’re strangers ’til now,
We’re choosing the path
Between the stars.
I’ll leave my love
Between the stars.”
This scene left such an impression on me that it became the basis for my first ever event design. I’d love to completely recreate it one day, the swagged chandliers, the golden clock, the haunting music and those magnificent but disturbing masks….
“Live without your sunlight.
Love without your heartbeat.
I…I..Can’t live within you.”
I think it’s probably true to say that the film was the start of my fascination with mazes and labyrinths… I always badly wanted Sarah’s wooden labyrinth game for myself, and was desperate to explore anything vaguely maze like as a child (and to this day). And it’s so perfectly fitting that the climax of the film, the end of our journey through secret passageways and hedged mazes, takes us to this thoroughly confusing and disorienting take on the Penrose Steps….
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great —You have no power over me.”
Watching Labyrinth back as an adult, it’s always struck me how desperately serious and severe Sarah is…as a little girl though, it all seemed so perfectly matter-of-fact. And it’s with that same ardor that we lapped up this iconic scene, Bowie somehow resplendent in grey tights and metres of marabou, as our heroine wins the day. How could any little girl not dream of being in Sarah’s shoes?….
Now, I think I’ll have to go and watch the film in full….it’s been too long. Although you may like to know, if you don’t already, that BBC Radio 2 has cleared this evening’s schedule in tribute…. Simon Mayo’s show will feature an “All Request Bowie” slot, with Rick Wakeman as guest, then at 7pm Ken Bruce presents “Bowie at the BBC”, after which the station gives us another chance to hear “Bowie Live at Maida Vale”, recorded in 2002 and presented by Jonathan Ross.