Throughout his trailblazing journey in the world of music, David Bowie maintained a close relationship with the cinematic medium as an ardent cinephile as well as an actor. In addition to starring in the films of revered auteurs such as Nicolas Roeg, Bowie constantly drew inspiration from the pioneers of cinema for his own experiments in music.
On multiple occasions, Bowie cited the likes of Fritz Lang and Stanley Kubrick as chief influences on his own work. The music icon had also claimed that looking at their cinematic masterpieces made him want to try his hand at being a screenwriter or director but such aspirations never really came to fruition while he was alive.
David Bowie also used his platform as one of the world’s most famous musicians to amplify the works of talented but unknown artists in the hopes that more people would be drawn to their works. His knowledge of cinema was so vast that he was even approached by The H&M High Line Festival in 2007 to help them curate a selection of important Latin American films and his selection was just sublime, ranging from Luis Buñuel to Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.
One such talented filmmaker, who was virtually unknown at the time, caught Bowie’s eye when he released his debut feature in 1977. That director was none other than David Lynch, struggling to popularise Eraserhead in the underground circuit. Thanks to Bowie’s efforts in drawing attention to that masterpiece, Eraserhead soon gained the reputation of a cult midnight movie.
The unusual beauty of Eraserhead stayed embedded in Bowie’s mind, inspiring him in more ways than one. A bleak dystopian parable about anti-natalism within an industrial wasteland, Eraserhead was everything that Bowie loved – a thoroughly unsettling surreal nightmare about alienation told through avant-garde narrative techniques with hints of the occult.
Bowie’s unparalleled love for Eraserhead marked the beginning of a friendship as well as a professional partnership between the two as Lynch would later invite him to appear in a truly bizarre cameo for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and Bowie also scored the opening song for Lynch’s Lost Highway. Just as Bowie was mesmerised by Lynch’s artistic vision, Lynch remained a fan of the musician’s work too.
“He was unique, like Elvis was unique,” Lynch explained in an interview. “There’s something about him that’s so different from everybody else. I only met him during the time I worked with him and just a couple of other times, but he was such a good guy, so easy to talk to and regular. I just wish he was still around and that I could work with him again.”