Velvet Goldmine: Wikis


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Velvet Goldmine
Directed by Todd Haynes
Produced by Christine Vachon
Michael Stipe
Written by James Lyons
Todd Haynes
Starring Ewan McGregor
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Christian Bale
Toni Collette
Eddie Izzard
Music by Carter Burwell
Editing by James Lyons
Distributed by Miramax
Release date(s) May 21, 1998 (Cannes, France); August 16, 1998 (General UK release)
Running time 124 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Velvet Goldmine is a 1998 film directed and co-written by Todd Haynes. The film tells the story of a pop star based mainly on David Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust' character and is set in Britain during the days of glam rock in the early 1970s.


About the film

The film centers on Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a bisexual glam rock icon patterned after David Bowie and, to a lesser extent, Marc Bolan. Ewan McGregor co-stars in the role of Curt Wild, a genre defying performer who doesn't back down from sex, nudity or drugs on or off stage, and whose biographical details are based on Iggy Pop (who grew up in a trailer park)[1] and Lou Reed (whose parents sent him to electroshock therapy to 'cure' his homosexuality).[2] Also featured are Christian Bale as a young glam rock fan and reporter, Arthur Stuart; Toni Collette as Slade's wife, Mandy; Eddie Izzard as his manager, Jerry Devine; and Luke Morgan Oliver as a young Oscar Wilde.

The tale strongly parallels Bowie relationships with Reed and Pop in the 1970s and 1980s. Brian Slade's gradually overwhelming on-stage persona of "Maxwell Demon" and his backing band, "Venus in Furs", likewise bear a resemblance to Bowie's similar persona and backing band, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. And like the relationship of Slade and Wild, Bowie produced records with both Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

Haynes has said that the story is also about the love affair between America and Britain, New York and London, in the way each music scene feeds off and influences each other.[3] Little Richard is shown as an early influence on Brian Slade, who in real life inspired the Beatles and Bowie, who in turn inspire many bands to come after. Little Richard has also been cited by Haynes as the inspiration for Jack Fairy.[3]

As an American, Haynes sees the glam scene as an outsider, just as the character of Arthur sees the world of his idols, Slade and Wild. While the film is described as being about Bowie / Slade, the film is also about the teenage fans of glam rock and the adolescent experience of finding one's identity. The notion of self-invention, a theme in the life and works of Oscar Wilde as well as in the personae of Ziggy and Iggy, gives teenagers a natural impetus to emulate the outrageous clothes and make-up of glam rockers.

The film is strongly influenced by the ideas and life of Oscar Wilde (seen in the film as a progenitor of glam rock), referring to events in his life and quoting his work on dozens of occasions. The work of Jean Genet (the subject of Haynes' previous film, Poison) is referred to in imagery and also quoted as dialogue.

The narrative structure of the film is modeled on that of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, in that reporter Stuart tries to solve a mystery about Slade, traveling around to interview Slade's lovers and colleagues, whose recollections are shown in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s flashback sequences.[4]


The story follows a British journalist, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), who has to search his own past when writing an article about the mysterious disappearance of a former glam-rock star, Brian Slade, for an American periodical. The film turns Slade's paranoia of being murdered during a concert (a paranoia that Bowie incorporated into the Ziggy Stardust story in the climax of the Ziggy Stardust album) into a career-ending publicity stunt by Slade, after which he gradually disappears from the public view entirely. As Stuart locates and talks with people connected to Slade, trying to find out what happened, he revisits the glam-rock scene of the '70s in a series of vignettes, which recreate the stories of Slade, Wild, and others involved in their lives.

Connections to other works


The film wasn't successful at the box office, making just $1.5m on a budget of $9m, according to Christine Vachon's 2006 account of independent film producing, A Killer Life.


  • 1998 Cannes Film Festival - Best Artistic Contribution - Todd Haynes; nominated for Golden Palm[6]
  • 1999 Academy Awards - nominated for Best Costume Design (Sandy Powell)
  • 1999 BAFTA Awards - Best Costume Design - Sandy Powell; nominated for Best Make Up/Hair (Peter King)[7]
  • 1999 Independent Spirit Awards - Best Cinematography - Maryse Alberti; nominated for Best Director (Todd Haynes) and Best Feature
  • 1998 Edinburgh International Film Festival - Channel 4 Director's Award - Todd Haynes
  • 1999 GLAAD Media Awards - Outstanding Film (Limited Release)
  • 1999 MOVIELINE Young Hollywood Award - Best Song in a Motion Picture - Hot One - Nathan Larson

Soundtrack and musicians

Although the character of Brian Slade is heavily based on David Bowie, Bowie himself disliked the script[8] and vetoed the proposal that his songs appear in the film.[9]

The finished soundtrack includes songs by glam rock and glam-influenced bands, past and present.

The English musicians who played under the name The Venus in Furs on the soundtrack were Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, David Gray, Suede's Bernard Butler, and Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. The American musicians who played as Curt Wild's Wylde Ratttz on the soundtrack were The Stooges' Ron Asheton, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley, Minutemen's Mike Watt, Gumball's Don Fleming, and Mark Arm of Mudhoney.

The soundtrack features new songs written for the film by Pulp, Shudder to Think and Grant Lee Buffalo,[10] as well as many early glam rock compositions, both covers and original versions. The Venus in Furs covers several Roxy Music songs with Thom Yorke channeling Bryan Ferry on vocals,[10] Placebo covers T.Rex's "20th Century Boy," Wylde Ratttz and Ewan McGregor cover The Stooges' "T.V. Eye" and "Gimme Danger", and Teenage Fanclub and Donna Matthews cover The New York Dolls' "Personality Crisis." Lou Reed, Brian Eno, T.Rex, and Steve Harley songs from the period are also included. The album is rounded out by a piece of Carter Burwell's film score.

All three members of the band Placebo also appeared in the film, with Brian Molko and Steve Hewitt playing members of the Flaming Creatures (Malcolm and Billy respectively) and Stefan Olsdal playing Polly Small's bassist.


Velvet Goldmine
Soundtrack by various artists
Released November 3, 1998
Genre Glam Rock, Soundtrack
Length 1:12:09
Label Fontana Records London
Producer Randall Poster, Todd Haynes, Michael Stipe
Professional reviews
  1. Brian Eno: "Needle In The Camel's Eye" (Brian Eno/Phil Manzanera) – 3:09
  2. Shudder To Think: "Hot One" (Nathan Larson/Shudder To Think) – 3:04
  3. Placebo: "20th Century Boy" (Marc Bolan) – 3:42
  4. Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "2HB" (Bryan Ferry) – 5:39
  5. Wylde Ratttz (vocals by Ewan McGregor): "T.V. Eye" (Dave Alexander/Scott Asheton/Ron Asheton/James Osterberg, Jr.) – 5:24
  6. Shudder To Think: "Ballad of Maxwell Demon" (Craig Wedren/Shudder to Think) – 4:47
  7. Grant Lee Buffalo: "The Whole Shebang" (Grant-Lee Phillips) – 4:11
  8. Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "Ladytron" (Bryan Ferry) – 4:26
  9. Pulp: "We Are The Boys" (Cocker/Banks/Doyle/Mackey/Webber) – 3:13
  10. Roxy Music: "Virginia Plain" (Bryan Ferry) – 3:00
  11. Teenage Fanclub & Donna Matthews: "Personality Crisis" (David Johansen/Johnny Thunders) – 3:49
  12. Lou Reed: "Satellite Of Love" (Lou Reed) – 3:41
  13. T.Rex: "Diamond Meadows" (Marc Bolan) – 2:00
  14. Paul Kimble & Andy Mackay: "Bitter's End" (Bryan Ferry) – 2:13
  15. Venus in Furs (vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers): "Baby's On Fire" (Brian Eno) – 3:19
  16. Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "Bitter-Sweet" (Andy Mackay/Bryan Ferry) – 4:55
  17. Carter Burwell: "Velvet Spacetime" (Carter Burwell) – 4:10
  18. Venus in Furs (vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers): "Tumbling Down" (Steve Harley) – 3:28
  19. Steve Harley: "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Steve Harley) – 3:59


  1. ^ "Limping with the Stooges in Washington Heights" in The Brooklyn Rail
  2. ^ Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (1996)
  3. ^ a b Moverman, Oren (1998) "Superstardust: Talking Glam with Todd Haynes", an interview in the introduction of Velvet Goldmine, A Screenplay by Todd Haynes, Hyperion: New York
  4. ^ Ashare, Matt (November 9, 1998). "'Velvet Goldmine' stirs up the glam past". Boston Phoenix. 
  5. ^ Velvet Goldmine: The Movie - The Ziggy Stardust Companion
  6. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Velvet Goldmine". Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  7. ^ Awards for Velvet Goldmine, IMDb.
  8. ^ Making of Velvet Goldmine, dvd of the movie 
  9. ^ Guthmann, Edward (November 6, 1998), "The Glitter of Glam Rock Doesn't Look Like Much Fun", San Francisco Chronicle: C–1, 
  10. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Velvet Goldmine: Review",

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Velvet Goldmine is 1998 film about a British journalist who investigates the life of a 1970s rock star in order to write about it for an American newspaper.

Directed by Todd Haynes. Written by Todd Haynes and James Lyons.



Brian Slade

  • I knew I should create a sensation, gasped the Rocket, and he went out. (Oscar Wilde - from the Remarkable Rocket)

Curt Wild

  • Everyone’s into this scene because it’s supposedly the thing to do right now. But you just can’t fake being gay. You know, if you’re gonna claim that you’re gay you’re gonna have to make love in gay style, and most of these kids... just aren’t going to make it. That line, ‘Everybody’s bisexual’, that’s a very popular thing to say right now. Personally, I think it’s meaningless.
  • He thought he fucking was Maxwell Demon in the end – you know? And Maxwell Demon...he thought he was God.
  • The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history. (Oscar Wilde - from the Picture of Dorian Gray)
  • See yourself on stage, inside-out. Tangled garlands in your hair. Of course, you are pleasantly surprised.
  • (Said to Brian) You could be my main man.

Mandy Slade

  • You all know me – subtlety’s my middle name. It’s as subtle as the piece of skin between my vagina and my anus – ooh la! la! Now what’s that called, I can never quite remember...No man’s land? Oh gosh – my guiche, dah-ling!
  • It's funny how beautiful people look when they're walking out the door.
  • I knew it was over. I just didn't know it was up to me to make it stop.
  • Time, places, people,... they're all speeding up. So, to cope with this evolutionary paranoia, strange people are chosen who, through their art, can move progress more quickly.

Arthur Stuart

  • Softly, he said, "I will mangle your mind".


  • Opening Text: Although what you are about to see is a work of fiction, it should never the less be played at maximum volume.
  • Oscar Wilde: I want to be a pop idol.
  • Young Boy: Put out the torches. Hide the moon. Hide the stars.
  • Female Narrator: For once there was an unknown land, full of strange flowers and subtle perfumes, a land of which it is joy of all joys to dream, a land where all things are perfect and poisonous.
  • Female Narrator: Childhood, adults always say, is the happiest time in life. But as long as he could remember, Jack Fairy knew better.
  • Child on Subway: Yesterday upon a stair, I saw a man who wasn't there, He wasn't there again today, How I wish he'd go away.
  • Trevor: Rock music has always been a reaction against accepted standards. And homosexuality has been going on for centuries. At the moment having a ‘gay’ image is the ‘in’ thing, just like a few years ago it was trendy to wear a long grey coat with a Led Zeppelin record under your arm.
  • Lou: I want you because you remember.
  • Cecil: He was elegance, walking arm in arm with a lie.
  • Cecil: Style always wins out in the end.
  • Cecil [about Curt]: The doctors guaranteed the treatment would fry the fairy clean out of him. But all it did was make him bonkers everytime he heard electric guitar.


Curt Wild: A real artist creates beautiful things and... puts nothing of his own life into them. Okay?
Arthur Stuart: Is that what you did?
Curt Wild: No. No. We set out to change the world and ended up... just changing ourselves.
Arthur Stuart: What's wrong with that?
Curt Wild: Nothing... If you don't look at the world.

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