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David Bowie – Diamond Dogs – An Unfinished Film

March 21st, 2021 | by Nick

In October 1973, David Bowie began work on a concept album, based on his experiences earlier in the year when he’d witnessed societies ravaged by totalitarianism during his journey across Eastern Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway.

He combined these travel experiences and together with playwright Tony Ingrassia, Bowie planned a theatrical project: a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.

In November 1973 Bowie talked about a lavish television adaptation of it. However, Orwell’s widow rejected the proposal and withheld the rights.

But as Bowie had already written some songs and begun recording, this new material was redeveloped into what would become the Diamond Dogs album released the following year.

Combining the influences of Orwell’s novel together with German expressionism and the silent movies ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’, ‘Metropolis’, and Todd Browning’s ‘Freaks’, Bowie had also planned a film to accompany the new album.

The film was storyboarded in detail and character parts were written, to be played by Bowie himself, Iggy Pop, Lyndsey Kemp and Cyrinda Fox, among others.

In early 1974 and during his stay at New York’s Pierre Hotel, Bowie together with supervision from cameraman John Dove began work on a short demo video for the Diamond Dogs film.

The demo video was shot with a single RCA video camera, and included very basic opening titles, simple special effects and superimposed scenes and figures using cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately the film project was never finished.

Compiled from various sources, this is some of Bowie’s original demo footage and although it remains incomplete here, it does offer a tantalizing glimpse of what he had planned.

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