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The iconic film that inspired David Bowie song 'Space Oddity'

David Bowie was an avid admirer of the world of cinema who admitted that he was often mesmerised by some of his favourite cinematic masterpieces. Having put out a considerably impressive body of work as an actor, Bowie had also expressed his interest in becoming a screenwriter-director who was ready to venture into uncharted territory.

Over the course of his acting career, Bowie collaborated with some of the greatest living directors – ranging from Nicolas Roeg to Japanese pioneer Nagisa Oshima. The cultural icon managed to leave an indelible mark on film history through his enigmatic performances which successfully translated a portion of what he had achieved through his music.

According to sources who were close to him, Bowie was an avid cinephile who was equally interested in eclectic avant-garde gems from around the world as well as Hollywood classics and British comedies. He particularly enjoyed the poetic works of pioneering filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel and Jean Cocteau, among others such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

One particular film that always stayed him and ended up inspiring his own music was Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey. In an interview, Bowie revealed that Kubrick’s famously elusive, hypnotic masterpiece was actually the primary source of inspiration for one of his most famous songs – Space Oddity.

Although many thought that the song was inspired by the moon landings, Bowie denied such claims. He explained: “It was written because of going to see the film 2001, which I found amazing. I was out of my gourd anyway, I was very stoned when I went to see it, several times, and it was really a revelation to me. It got the song flowing.”

That’s why Bowie was announced when British television programmers used Space Oddity as the background music for the presentations of the moon landing. He added that the reason why they had chosen to pair his song with the moon landing was because they weren’t really paying attention to the lyrics at all.

Kubrick’s attempts to find a scientific definition of god through his film, his questions about human evolution and his commentary on the fundamental nature of individual isolation stayed with Bowie. He also managed to connect that terrible sense of alienation with what he was going through at that point in his career, disillusioned by the commercial flop of his debut album.

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