Eddie Izzard meets Noel Fielding: what I learned from the Bowie biopic Stardust trailer

Stuart Heritage
·3-min read

Stardust should be a slamdunk. After all, 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody and 2019’s Rocketman – both biopics of musicians from the 1970s – walked away with Oscars. By all rights, as a film about David Bowie, Stardust should supersede them both. Who could possibly fail to get excited by a gorgeous, big-budget, fully authorised biopic of one of the most legendary rock stars of all time, starring Emma.’s Johnny Flynn, and packed with hit after hit after glorious hit?

The bad news is that Stardust isn’t that film. It isn’t authorised in the slightest – Duncan Jones has repeatedly bristled about its existence on social media – and it has been prohibited from including a single Bowie song. But just because it sounds more like the 30 Rock episode Jackie Jormp-Jomp than an actual movie, could Stardust still beat the odds and be worth watching? Let’s analyse the trailer and find out.

Stardust
Stardust

1. We open on an airport. A distant, glamorous, otherworldly figure steps off a plane and sets foot in a new and optimistic land of opportunity. As his reflection bursts into several different versions of himself, this wandering spirit – this starman – is finally ready to introduce himself to America. Who is he? He’s …

Stardust
Stardust

2. Oh, he’s Noel Fielding doing a weird Eddie Izzard impersonation after an ill-advised dye-job on his way to the world’s fourth most successful Kasabian cosplay convention. But for the sake of the film, let’s say it’s David Bowie.

Stardust
Stardust

3. Despite his outward confidence, this is a time of turmoil for Bowie. None of his singles have performed well, and it looks as if his music career might be over. This is why he looks so anguished here. Either that or he’s just realised that this whole film somehow has to work without using any actual David Bowie music.

Stardust
Stardust

4. Nevertheless, help is at hand. Here’s Marc Maron, playing The Only Man in America Who Believes in David Bowie. Together they will go on a road trip across an entire continent that will make or break Bowie’s dreams.

Stardust
Stardust

5. But things aren’t going well. Here he is, playing one of his songs to a small and uninterested audience. The film appears to be a dramatisation of Bowie’s life around the time of The Man Who Sold the World. However, don’t forget that Stardust failed to acquire the rights to any of Bowie’s actual songs, so here we can assume he is performing a number entitled The Chap Who Flogged the Earth.

Stardust
Stardust

6. However, Bowie’s career is still not where he wants it to be. He needs to make a choice. He can either keep peddling his wares as he is, or he can make a bold decision that could send him into the stratosphere or end his dreams for ever. Which will he pick? Who knows, but here’s a shot of him at an actual crossroads for some reason.

Stardust
Stardust

7. Reader, he picked the latter. Bowie has cut his hair and assumed a brand new personality that he’ll use to conquer the world. His name? Ziggy Stardust. His name in this film? Probably Zaggy Moonrocks or something, I don’t know.

Stardust
Stardust

8. In America, Bowie taps into the counterculture like never before, trading his old hippy-dippy image for something more aligned with the snarling, smacked-out worldview of this band, The Velveteen Overground, seen here performing their copyright-free song I’m Loitering for the Fellow.

Stardust
Stardust

9. And this inspiration leads David Bowie to fully inhabit Zaggy Moonrocks. From here it’s a straight shot to superstardom. After all, what audience could possibly resist the lure of his new but legally-distinct-from-the-Bowie-catalogue songs such as Four and a Half Years, Skiffle Euthanasia or Suffragist Village? David Bowie has arrived, sort of.