Monday, 11 January 2016


As I noted when it came out, sort of joking but not really, the title song and video for David Bowie’s Blackstar is a great piece of nightmarish SF that would make a fantastic episode of Doctor Who. So...

In the villa of Ormen... In the villa of Ormen stands a solitary candle... in the centre of it all... in the centre of it all... your eyes...

Where is Ormen, and what does the candle light? Who is looking?

An astronaut’s suit (with a smiley badge, a reference to Moon perhaps?) lies on a desolate world under the Blackstar. How long has it lain there?

On the day of execution, only women kneel and smile... at the centre of it all...

The stranger tells us this, blindfolded with two buttons covering his eyes, as ecstatics dance behind him in a dusty attic room.

A girl in a plain homespun dress approaches the spacesuit, a hairless tail swishing in the air. None of the other people have tails, so why does she?

She opens the helmet, to reveal an elaborately decorated skull. Who colonised this world, and when did this culture turn to ritual?

She returns to a desert town in the shadow of a black castle made up of monoliths, carrying the skull in a reliquary.

The solitary candle itself is huge. How long has it been there?

Under a light like fire, more modestly-dressed young women gather and dance like a tarantella.

A headless skeleton floats in space, drifting towards the Blackstar.

Wind shakes the crops as the stranger, no longer blindfolded (or perhaps not blindfolded yet?) holds a battered book marked with the Blackstar. Sunlight shines out.

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

Who took the victim’s place, and why?

How many times does an angel fall?
How many people lie instead of talking tall?
He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar)

Three people are strung up as scarecrows over the crops, blindfolded like the stranger, alive and also dancing.

I can’t answer why (I’m a blackstar)
Just go with me (I’m not a filmstar)
I’m-a take you home (I’m a blackstar)
Take your passport and shoes (I’m not a popstar)
And your sedatives, boo (I’m a blackstar)
You’re a flash in the pan (I’m not a marvel star)
I’m the Great I Am (I’m a blackstar)

The stranger laughs and brags.

I’m a blackstar, way up, on money, I’ve got game
I see right, so wide, so open-hearted pain
I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
I can’t answer why (I’m not a gangstar)
But I can tell you how (I’m not a film star)
We were born upside-down (I’m a stars star)
Born the wrong way ‘round (I’m not a white star)
(I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar
I’m not a pornstar, I’m not a wandering star
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

A high priestess presents the skull to the women, who dance in celebration as one - the one who was dancing with the stranger? - kneels to bear it on her back.

A monster with shaggy hair and hooks for hands approaches, and the living scarecrows cry out against it...

The Blackstar’s light is gone from Ormen...

1 comment:

  1. This is a great breakdown of the music video, and it presents an intriguing prompt. There's certainly enough surreal scifi imagery here to provide the basis for a memorable Doctor Who module! The loss of David Bowie is great, but he'll be an artistic inspiration to us for generations to come.