Critic’s Notebook: Remembering David Bowie’s Electric, Elusive Film Career

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by Neil Young

He was not a “movie star” per se, but in films from ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ to ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’ to ‘The Prestige,’ Bowie appeared as a beguiling emissary from a parallel, fabulous other reality.

All the world’s lightning is trapped in a single space, and through this roaring inferno of electricity, pulsations bouncing from his besuited body, walks a man: David Bowie. You were expecting someone else? Striding into view as Serbian genius Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006), Bowie visibly revels in what he must have intuited would be one of the most spectacularly apt entrances in cinema history.

Who cared that Bowie was a 58-year-old, five-foot-ten Brit playing a 43-year-old, six-foot-plus Serb? This was, after all, a film about suspension of disbelief, showbiz chutzpah, and the “real magic” of both invention and personal reinvention: Bowie’s wheelhouse. “I was looking for someone the audience would instantly believe was capable of extraordinary things,” Nolan said in an interview at the time. READ MORE

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