For the song, see Velvet Goldmine (song)

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

David Bowie disliked the script and vetoed the proposal that his songs appear in the film.

About the film

The story follows a British journalist (Christian Bale) who has to search his own past when writing an article about early 1970s rock stars for an American periodical. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers had his feature debut playing the role of Brian Slade, a bisexual folk minstrel-cum-glitter icon patterned after David Bowie and to a lesser extent, Marc Bolan and Brian Eno. Ewan McGregor co-stars in the role of Curt Wild, a glam-rock performer who doesn't back down from sex, nudity or drugs on or off stage, and whom many consider to be loosely based on Iggy Pop, with a dash of Lou Reed and Mick Jagger. Also featured are Toni Collette as Slade's wife, and Eddie Izzard as his manager.


The tale strongly parallels Bowie and Pop's relationship in the 1970s and 1980s, with parallel stages in both stories including "folk singer takes illegal substances" and "open-minded glam rocker becomes bland straight guy." 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. The film's plot turns Bowie's paranoia of being murdered during a concert (a paranoia that Bowie visited upon the Ziggy Stardust character in the climax of the Ziggy Stardust album) into a career-ending publicity stunt by Slade. The film is also strongly influenced by the ideas and life of Oscar Wilde (seen here as a progenitor of glam rock), with a dash of Jean Genet influence. The narrative structure of the film is modeled on that of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane[1].

Connections to other works

  • The title of the movie takes its name from the b-side "Velvet Goldmine", a song about making out with another man, written by David Bowie. The film's title may also be intended as an allusion to the name of the band The Velvet Underground.
  • The name of the lead character, Brian Slade, is an allusion to the 1970s glam band Slade. The name of Slade's persona "Maxwell Demon" was named after Brian Eno's first band, which in itself was influenced by James Clerk Maxwell's thought experiment character, "Maxwell's demon".
  • Curt Wild's backing band, The Rats, shares its name with one of Mick Ronson's earliest groups.[2] It also alludes to Iggy Pop's band, The Stooges in that the names of both words share a similar meaning ("rat" and "stooge" both being terms for someone who is an informer).
  • "Venus in Furs" is a reference to a Velvet Underground song of the same name, whose title and lyrics in turn reference a novel of that name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. "Flaming Creatures" is also the name of Jack Smith's seminal piece of gay cinema.
  • Much of the script consists of quotes from various works of Oscar Wilde, and several of the scenes involving the character Jack Fairy reference the novels of Jean Genet.
  • The bleak, dystopian feel of the action taking place in 1984 alludes to the novel 1984 by George Orwell and also Bowie's own dystopian song of the same name.
  • The cover art for the Maxwell Demon album is based on an album cover by Jobriath.

Musicians and soundtrack

The musicians who played as 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 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 fame. All three members of the band Placebo also appeared in the film, Brian Molko and Steve Hewitt playing members of the Flaming Creatures and Stefan Olsdal playing Polly Small's bassist. Placebo also played "20th Century Boy", a cover for T.Rex's original.


  1. Needle In The Camel's Eye - Brian Eno
  2. Hot One - Shudder To Think
  3. 20th Century Boy - Placebo
  4. 2HB - The Venus in Furs
  5. T.V. Eye - Wylde Rattz
  6. Ballad of Maxwell Demon - Shudder To Think
  7. The Whole Shebang - Grant Lee Buffalo
  8. Ladytron - Venus in Furs
  9. We Are The Boys - Pulp
  10. Virginia Plain - Roxy Music
  11. Personality Crisis - Teenage Fanclub & Donna Matthews
  12. Satelite Of Love - Lou Reed
  13. Diamond Meadows - T.Rex
  14. Bitter's End - Paul Kimble & Andy Mackay
  15. Baby's On Fire - Venus in Furs
  16. Bitter-Sweet - Venus in Furs
  17. Velvet Spacetime - Carter Burwell
  18. Tumbling Down - Venus in Furs
  19. Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - Steve Harley


  1. Ashare, Matt (9). 'Velvet Goldmine' stirs up the glam past. Boston Phoenix.
  2. Velvet Goldmine: The Movie - The Ziggy Stardust Companion

External links

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