The Image, a film by Michael Armstrong


The image in question is a certain David Bowie making his first (non-speaking) film appearance as “The Boy”, a figure from a painting come to life. The only other character is an artist played by a young Michael Byrne, later a familiar face in many British film and TV productions. Bowie was 20 at the time, and Michael Armstrong’s short was made in 1967, the same year that David Bowie’s debut album was released to little acclaim. The film may be a little rough—it was obviously made with sound added later—but hindsight lends it multiple resonances: Bowie as an artwork come to life, the art theme in general (many of the paintings Bowie made public were self-portraits), a slight homoerotic subtext, and so on. There’s also a moment at the beginning where Bowie presses his face to the window, and his flattened nose looks the way it does on the cover of Lodger. A mere 12 years separates that album and this small film with a mountain range of tumultuous creativity in between. Watch The Image here.

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