Screenplay: Todd Haynes
Story: Todd Haynes & James Lyons
Director: Todd Haynes
Released: 1998, Channel 4, Velvet Goldmine Productions Ltd/Newmarket Capital Group, Zenith Productions/Killer Films in association with Single Cell Pictures, Goldwyn Films.
Set in Britain in the early 70s, Velvet Goldmine is the story of Thomas, an ordinary boy from Birmingham who reinvents himself as Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Myers), glam-rock star. Then, at the height of his fame, Slade fakes his own death and disappears. Ten years later, journalist and former Slade fan Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) investigates the mystery and comes into contact with Slade’s ex-wife, Mandy (Toni Collette) and former agent, Cecil (Michael Feast).
Slade’s story hinges on his relationship with drug-addled American rock star, Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor), whose career Slade attempts to revitalise. Slade’s manager, Jerry Devine (Eddie) signs Wild to his label but loses faith in Slade when he is unable to complete an album, causing Slade to flee to Berlin before returning to England to engineer his death. Wild and fellow pop star, Jack Fairy (Micko Westmoreland) play a farewell concert to glam-rock and Slade is seen hiding in the shadows at the back of the auditorium.
Jump to 1984 and America is in the thrall of a showbiz evangelist, Tommy Stone. Stuart has his suspicions that Stone and Slade are one and the same, suspicions which are confirmed when he again meets up with Wild, but Slade’s fate is only hinted at and never revealed. Slade is, according to Sight And Sound, “a symbol for the shift of the decadent 70s into the reactionary gloss of the 80s.”
With its thinly disguised references to icons of the time (Davie Bowie, Iggy Pop etc), Velvet Goldmine was successful more for its visual impact and soundtrack (supervised by Michael Stipe), which included music by Brian Eno, Placebo, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Grant Lee Buffalo and Pulp.
“This fictional account detailed in hindsight….gives a telling glimpse of a bizarre era.” Sky Magazine
“Plot, however, is secondary to the extraordinary trip on offer – this is Kane remade by Ken Russell….Rhys Myers and McGregor are both sensational, though they are matched by the excellent Collette and Izzard’s fantastically dodgy impresario.” Flicks
“….Jerry Devine (a scene-stealing Eddie Izzard)….” The Express
“Eddie Izzard makes most impact as a loutish manager.” Evening Standard