Magic gloves Pt. 2 (Serious moonlight)
OKLAHOMA CITY – “An enigma portraying an enigma.”
“(Bowie) is actually a great magician of time, possessed of inconceivable powers.”
The former quote is how Indiewire.com’s Scott Beggs describes David Bowie in his role as ahead-of-his-time inventor/magician Nikola Tesla in the 2006 film The Prestige.
The latter quote was taken from a French language magazine, Court-circuit, which noted how Chris Marker’s 1963 apocalyptic film, La Jetee, (which influenced Terry Gilliam in the creation of 12 Monkeys) had influenced Bowie, in particular the creation of Bowie’s 1993 video for “Jump They Say.” I noted its significance in my 2014 Dust Devil Dreams piece "We live inside a dream ..."
As for Bowie's appearance in The Prestige, interacting with Hugh Jackman's obsessive magician/illusionist character Robert Angier, the role seemed tailor-made for Bowie, a modern-day magus himself.
Indeed. Watching Tesla/Bowie first appearing on screen in the film, as he walks past through the sparks of electricity coming off of his invention, is amazing and captivating. Something the actual David Bowie would pull of in stage show. Bowie is making an entrance there at his remote Colorado laboratory. And what is interesting is that Nikola Tesla and David Bowie are actually quite alike in many respects.
Existing between two worlds. Both are obsessive and extremely gifted. And also somewhat lonely. But they know they have important things to accomplish while they are here on our planet. Those things aren't always appreciated or even recognized in their own time.
Tesla/Bowie tells Angier that he recognizes his obsessive nature and that it can be dangerous if not kept in check. Angier, meanwhile, notes that Tesla is also obsessive in his pursuit of knowledge.
“Hasn’t good come of your obsessions?” Angier asks Tesla/Bowie.
“At first. But I have followed them too long," Tesla/Bowie responds. "I am their slave. And one day they will choose to destroy me.”
Angier also seems too eager to move forward with his plans. Tesla/Bowie warns him off.
“Society only tolerates one change at a time,” Tesla/Bowie tells an unconvinced Angier.
"Turn and face the strange," Bowie tells the world, 44 years to the week prior to his death at age 69 on January 10, 2016.
SCARY MONSTERS: Remembering David Bowie at the local Garage restaurant. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)
In Bowie’s 1983 video for his single “Let’s Dance” (my first true introduction to this master magus as an 11-year old), we find Bowie in a bar somewhere in the Australian Outback. He’s playing guitar and singing the songs. And (like Freemasons) wearing the white gloves, not unlike the white gloves he wears as Tesla in The Prestige. A stage magician, of course, always wears white gloves. (As it happens, I am reading C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew to my children. In one scene of the stage version, the sinister magician Uncle Andrew wears white gloves).
Aboriginal Australians are shown finding some “red shoes” (not unlike the “magic gloves” in the cinematic version of The World According to Garp, starring Robin Williams) and then seeing “a false sun” of a nuclear weapon detonated in the distance. The false sun nuke being the opposite of the "serious moonlight." But they are connected. Right before I wrote this, I overheard a young mother trying to explain what the "moon" was, up there in the dark blue evening sky.
And what appears over New York City, where Bowie passed away, the day of his death? A tremendous rainstorm followed by an incredible "double rainbow." I think Robin Williams was welcoming Bowie with open arms.
The video for "Let's Dance" has been described as "straightforward" by Bowie himself. A simple statement about racism, imperialism and oppression against Australia's aboriginal people - and all the indigenous peoples affected by the British Empire. And while Bowie dabbled in fascism some eight years earlier, by 1983 he was firmly in the left camp, this having started in late 1978 and early 1979 when he began writing and recording (and traveling) in advance and for the recording of Lodger.
Interestingly, “Fantastic Voyage,” Bowie’s 1979 anti-nuclear war song from Lodger (noted here), was one fo the final songs he performed live before his retirement in late 2006, around the time The Fountain – starring Hugh Jackman, of course – was released.
I think Bowie was sent to our planet to help remind us of our humanity and just how precious life is. And how we are all connected. The mushroom cloud seen by the Aboriginal Australians is a warning that the West's invention of nuclear power and its planet-ending power needs to be addressed in a serious manner. The native people of the Marshall Islands were told in the 1940's that Bikini Atoll and other islands were to be used as testing grounds for nuclear bombs "for the good of mankind."
Tesla warned us of what was coming in the 20th century ... and beyond.
Because of our imperialistic ambitions, the Marshallese have never recovered. Fortunately, they are taking their concerns to the world and are hoping the world's nuclear powers actually achieve nuclear disarmament as they are committed to do.
Bowie, meanwhile, is using his art to remind us that we are all here on this planet as part of a "fantastic voyage."
But back to The Prestige, it is interesting to note that Hugh Jackman himself is Australian. While Jackman is terrific in The Prestige, he is even greater in one of the finest films of this young century - Darren Aronofsky's film The Fountain, which was released a decade ago in 2006, the same year as The Prestige.
Bowie doesn't appear in The Fountain, but his spirit, his presence is felt. So is Tesla's. Tesla famously noted that we will "live to see man-made horrors beyond (our) comprehension."
In The Fountain, Jackman plays three characters, all linked as one. There is 1500’s Tomas the conquistador. There is 2000’s Tom the neuroscientist. And then there is 2500’s Tommy the meditating space traveler in an orb – or is it Major Tom?
Regardless, these "Toms" are all one. Ashes to ashes ...
After all, my Dust Devil Dreams dream of December 31, 2015 ("Walls come tumblin' down") involved me communicating with a dead astronaut, who did not go by Tom but by the name “David.” As I noted, the image was quite like that of the "dead astronaut" in Bowie's "Blackstar" video.
In The Fountain, Tommy is an astronaut of sorts. He is on a space journey to the nebula of Xibalba with his "tree of life" accompanying him. He reaches his destination, but dies, though comforted that his love will be waiting for him in the afterlife. I see similarities to this film and Interstellar with its themes of love overcoming space and time.
And as sync would have it, Bowie had a passing link with The Fountain.
Incredibly, Aronofsky had hoped Bowie would allow him to use “Space Oddity” as well as for Bowie to “rework pieces of the score and to vocalize them, but the plan was unsuccessful.” Knowing that now, it makes perfect sense that Bowie's sound would play into Aronofsky’s Kabbalistic vision.
If only it had happened. Perhaps it has ... somewhere ...
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