The movie David Bowie admitted was a “revelation”

David Bowie, the Starman who fell to Earth and enchanted us with his avant-garde style and otherworldly tunes, had an artistry that was a testament to his innate eccentricity – as well as his diverse influences. One of his most iconic songs, ‘Space Oddity’, wasn’t, as many would presume, inspired by the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Instead, the seed was sown in the dark expanse of a cinema under the spell of a certain Stanley Kubrick movie.

“In England, it was always presumed that it was written about the space landing because it kind of came to prominence around the same time. But it actually wasn’t,” Bowie admitted back in 2003. So, where did the inspiration for the poignant tale of Major Tom actually originate? “It was written because of going to see the film 2001,” he revealed.

The legendary artist found Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey “amazing”, even going as far as to say that Kubrick “predicted my lifestyle for the ’70s”. Bowie watched the film multiple times, often “very stoned”, and pronounced it “a revelation to me”. This cinematic journey ignited his imagination and set the cogs turning for ‘Space Oddity’.

But the influence of Kubrick didn’t end there. The eclectic and daring auteur left a lasting impact on Bowie, this time with his adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange. This movie also managed to seep into Bowie’s artistry, affecting his music and aesthetic. A Clockwork Orange’s influence spilt into Bowie’s post-Ziggy Stardust album, Diamond Dogs.

Showing both his artistic fluidity and his genius for genre-bending, Bowie referenced “a little bit of the old ultra-violence” in the form of ‘Halloween Jack’ and the macabre street gang that roamed back and forth on the 1974 album.

With his insatiable creative appetite, Bowie managed to translate the visual and thematic elements of these films into his music. From the sombre, ethereal tones of ‘Space Oddity’ to the gritty, punk-infused sounds of Diamond Dogs, the mark of Kubrick was unmistakable.

In wrapping up the Bowie-Kubrick love affair, it’s fair to say that the Starman was a master of drawing inspiration from eclectic sources and infusing it into his unique and timeless sound. And, with the full knowledge that Bowie was “out of” his “gourd” when watching 2001 (for the more civilised readers, that’s slang for being stoned beyond belief), suddenly some of the lyrics of ‘Space Oddity’ start to make sense: “I’m floating in the most peculiar way… and the stars look very different today.”

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