Velvet Goldmine: Shimmering Truth (063874)

19 Apr

This time I was ready. I know I got caught off guard by watching blow up, but this time I was only my toes. The movie we watched was called Velvet Goldmine, and although i tried not to think too hard while watching the film, there were headaches.

The very first thing which I questioned in the movie was: who was the story about? I may have seen movies like these, where it was sort of like a documentary about a person’s life as elaborated by people who knew him well, and a journalist who travels to the ends of the earth looking for answers and creating the perfect story. What I don’t understand is why Jack Fairy was introduced, and why Christian Bale’s character was inserted in a storyline which was primarily for Brian Slade. As the story progressed though, I saw through the meanings: on how this story was different from whose others i’ve watched, on how there was a personal attachment between the journalist, the problem, and the story itself. In fact, i may have even convinced myself that it was Arthur’s story that was more of the film’s focus.

Much like Blow Up, there was much questioning to be made, and again, what was true and what was not were blurred as the story progressed. I mean, who would think that a man such as Christian Bale’s character, who was a journalist, a really manly journalist, was part of a fad in England which encouraged people to be bisexual!? I was shocked! Not only did the story of Brian Slade pave way for the story of the reporter, it made me believe that all the stories of the reporter, the interviewees, and all the other characters like Curt Wild, were intertwined in an era that was already long forgotten at that time period. Again, like Blow Up, the characters have a lot of questions and have a lot of doubt, living their lives only as static as the times.

Probably the most obvious similarity between the first two movies that we watched was the presence of the mysterious shooter, and the destroyed reality that came as after someone died. Actually, it didn’t make much of an impact to me because I pulled my watching of Blow UP out my head before I started watching Velvet Goldmine, yet it may be a significant similarity after all. again, questions were raised after the shooting, and probably the focal question that the reporter tried to answer: where did Brian Slade go if he didn’t die?

But what made Velvet Goldmine different from Blow Up, is that somehow, in some odd way, there were answers. answers that may not have been evident for the viewers, but was found out by the reporter. Answers that were probably not of his original questions, but answers about his own personal questions, a link that was made from his present life, to the life I saw when he was still a young man. Ultimately, I think there should be no comparison between the first two films watched in class, so moving on.

What I especially liked in this film is the prevalence of glam rock. Not only was the movie filled with music which gave it a better and smoother flow, but also i have the movie more feeling, a better sting of mood and heightened senses – a closer connection between the characters, and the audience. I admit, a movie with music is so much easier to watch.

It was also very interesting to see Christian Bale’s character come into play. I really did not suspect that his character was sucked into a pop culture that made him less of a straight man. The scenes were almost haunting to him as flashbacks filled the screen. It was like he did not want to remember those dark times in his life yet is forced to because of his job. By doing so, the reporter himself was confused about his past and his present, and wanted answers.

In the movie we see Brian Slade’s life unfolding from early beginnings to his rise in fame, yet we also compare and contrast his life with the reporter’s life – from when he started listening to glam rock music to his eventual transformation to a glam rock zombie. Yet as time changed and glam rock died out, so did his previous life of pop culture. disgusting as it may seem, I think the highlight of the movie was Arthur having sex with Curt Wild as the final flashback and the end of the old days. OMG Batman was once bisexual (or gay due to the fact that there was no girl mentioned).

What  i don’t get, though, is the piece of jewelry that was passed on from one idol to the other. It was seen in the beginning of the movie held by Jack Fairy when he was a kid, which was said to have been from Oscar Wilde, and seen in certain instances in the movie. I notice that the camera always focuses its shot on the jewel as an object in itself. During the end of the movie, it was also passed on to Christian Bale’s character, giving me more doubt on the symbolism of the jewel. I could only guess that the jewel represents finding answers, just like when Jack fairy discovered his “gift”, just like when he flaunted his wearing of the jewel to affirm his calling, just like when it was given to Curt Wild at the end of the glam rock era, and just like it was given to Christian Bale’s character when he finally figured things out not only for Brian Slade, but to himself.

Final words: Kudos to this movie, for giving it an unimaginable life which combined a little slice of history, a touch of fiction, and a personal experience of the main character. I think it was about personal closure and acceptance, but not as tangible as closure might seem to be. It was still quite a hard movie to watch because I personally did not know what to focus on, and which lines were crossed – yet it wasn’t as open ended.


Yu, Gregory

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Posted by on 19 April 2011 in Uncategorized


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