"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Ashes To Ashes

Ashes To Ashes, 1980. Directed by David Bowie and David Mallet.

Not sure how to introduce this bunch of random weird but that’s never stopped me before…

I sometimes wonder what made me interested in film and the visual arts in the first place. I tend to get a bit irritated when I see some of these interviews where a big name chappy says ‘when I saw **** I knew instantly that I had to make films’. I just didn’t have that moment of epiphany or, at least, I don't think I did. I never did have much memory of my earlier years and a close encounter with a Carlton 3000 GSi (wonderful blacked out windows it had) did for quite a lot more. For no readily apparent reason recently I’ve been remembering some of those early visuals that really got me excited and interested in ‘that sort of thing’ and I thought I’d tell you about a couple of those that have come back to me because I can’t think of anything better to harass you with I love you all greatly and feel a deep need to share!

The family didn’t get a VCR until maybe ’90 which was much later than everybody else I knew, and cinema was an expensive treat that happened once in a blue moon, but TV- that was readily available and what seemed to really make an impression on me quite early on were the fledgling and, in hindsight, somewhat rough pop promos.

I didn’t like Bowie until right recently but this promo sank deeply into my psyche. Everything in it seemed designed to be interesting: Harlequin, or was it Pierrot? (Robert Powell anyone?), padded cells, fires burning on beaches (very Shelley), the weird colour shifts (like some wild DW CSO), images within images, the negative images, pseudo-nuns, strange religiose marches, ink black seas breaking on post-apocalyptic shores and bizarre fleshly underground chambers… Watching again reminded me how much of it I’d forgotten and how this seems to sum up a nifty chunk of my inner showreel… the odd thing is, for good or ill, I’m not sure if I commit much, if any, of this stuff to paper! Oh, and I love the large bulldozer probably because it reminds me of the times my Dad would take me down onto various sites and I was able watch all the JCBs and Barber-Greenes in action and, in Winter, the Maggy-Deutz's.

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