‘Stardust’ is a biographical film that follows the early years of David Bowie’s fame, before he created the iconic alter-ego of Ziggy Stardust. It focuses on the moment in Bowie’s illustrious musical career when he got the inspiration for and invented the wildly eccentric persona of Ziggy Stardust, while on tour in the USA to promote his third studio album.
The movie centers on Bowie’s origins, his relationship with his first wife Angie, and his fear that his brother’s schizophrenia could be an inherited psychosis. But are the events shown in ‘Stardust,’ rooted in fact? Is the plot based on David Bowie’s real-life story? Let’s find out!
Is Stardust Based on a True Story?
Yes, ‘Stardust’ is based on a true story. It is loosely based on and inspired by David Bowie’s life and musical career. Having said that, it is important to note that the makers of the film do warn the audience at the beginning of ‘Stardust’ that the movie is a highly dramatized version of a turning point in Bowie’s life. Also, an important fact to bring to light here is that ‘Stardust’ does not have the approval or blessing of David Bowie’s family.
This very fact raises a question on the authenticity of the story as it pertains to the late superstar’s actual life. The film is also missing a key ingredient – David Bowie’s actual music. Bowie’s filmmaker son Duncan Jones has previously said that the film is not authorized by Bowie’s estate and therefore the rights to his music have not been provided.
Instead, the film shows Bowie’s character performing various covers of different artists’ songs that he did perform in real-life on his 1971 tour. However, without the presence of Ziggy Stardust’s music, the film clearly lacks soul. It also casts doubt as to how much of the film’s story is rooted in reality and how much of it has been fictionalized for dramatization purposes. Here is the official synopsis of the film as provided by the movie’s makers:
“David Bowie is one of the most seminal legends in music history; but who was the man behind the many faces? In 1971, a 24-year-old fledgling David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) is sent to America to promote his newest record, The Man Who Sold the World. Leaving behind his pregnant wife Angie (Jena Malone), Bowie and his band embark on a makeshift coast-to-coast promotional tour with struggling Mercury Records publicist Rob Oberman (Marc Maron).”
We know for a fact that David Bowie’s first wife Angie was pregnant with their child Duncan Jones when he went to the USA for his The Man Who Sold the World Tour in 1971. So the movie does feature real-life events and characters based on real people. But the finer plot points in the film might just have been added for dramatic effect.
Read More: Where Was Stardust (2020) Filmed?