Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars | Chicago Reader

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Rated PG · 91 minutes · 1983

David Bowie's 1973 farewell concert as alien rocker Ziggy Stardust must have seemed like foolproof material for a movie, but documentarian D.A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back, Monterey Pop) made such a mess of it that his feature wasn't released for a decade. This digital restoration replaces the murky sound track with a sharp new Dolby mix by Tony Visconti, which should remind viewers what a killer band Bowie had in the glam-rocking Spiders From Mars. Unfortunately no technology can correct the blurry, flat-footed camerawork or ill-conceived stage lighting, which casts a relentless red orange spot on the androgynous star and leaves the band in the dark. Still Bowie's most inspired and flamboyant album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars predated Pink Floyd's The Wall in exploring the bizarre emotional life of rock superstars, but it's not clear whether Pennebaker understands what it's about—he can only grope for a visual equivalent with cliched shots of overwhelmed fans.
Director: D.A. Pennebaker
Producer: Tony Defries and Edith Van Slyck
Cast: David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansy, Angela Bowie and Ringo Starr

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