Saturday, September 05, 2009

Golden Years And Cat People

While watching "Inglourious Basterds", it struck me that David Bowie might be the only rock musician whose songs have been used in anachronistic settings in two different movies. I said "rock musician", so no need to point out how Dead White Male classical composers' works continue to be used in modern settings.

The first Bowie tune used in an "out of its time" setting was Golden Years in "A Knight's Tale". (The Bowie song starts around the 2:10 mark.) Must say, it was a little startling on the first viewing and a lot of fun to watch.

Now Cat People (putting out fire) shows up in Tarantino's new film.

If only someone could find a way to use David Bowie's cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "America" in a film, I would be a very happy man. He sang it on the TV show that was broadcast in the days following 9/11. Never was I more comforted by a song as when Bowie sang about the Turnpike and Saginaw and Pittsburgh...


I have fond (and very muddled - obviously) memories of watching Paul Schrader's fun little B-romp, "Cat People", back in college. All that menace (did Bowie's voice ever sound as dangerous?), smoke, weird lighting and erotica helped burn that song into my cortex.

QT has used the song in a very different fashion in the film. Like with everything else in a Tarantino film, the sequence can either be enjoyed on its own terms or by recognizing the "quotation marks" around the song. ("Or" is probably the wrong conjunction in that sentence. I should say "and" but that can only happen on a second or third viewing.)

So if you were not yet old enough to watch films in the Eighties or have never experienced goose-bumps from listening to David Bowie's baritone booming over the speakers in a big, darkened hall, well, go watch the Tarantino flick. It is a treat.

Also read this blog (with a great punny title) which talks about the song and Bowie's state of mind when he recorded "Cat People".



shenanigans said...

Inglourious Basterds opens here in Singapore next week. Cannot. Wait.

km said...

Shenanigans: I hope you like your skulls very crunchy :)