A film is to be made of the legendary 1976/77 period when Iggy Pop and David Bowie went to berlin and made the classic The Idiot and Lust For Life Album It was announced today at the Berlinale that a fictional movie will explore David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s fabled musical collaboration in West Berlin and Bowie’s “Low” (all released in ’77).
Bowie and Pop relocated to Munich, and then Berlin, after initial recording sessions on “Low” at the Château d’Hérouville in the Oise Valley, near Paris.
The rest of “Low” and the two Pop albums were cut at Hansa Tonstudio at Köthener Strasse 38 in the Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. It was popularly know as “Hansa Studio by the Wall.”
With a script from Robin French, co-writer of the BBC’s Andy Samberg sitcom “Cuckoo,” “Lust for Life” will be directed by the British filmmaker Gabriel Range (“Death of a President”). Per the Hollywood Reporter, French’s sources include the Paul Trynka biographies “David Bowie: Starman” and “Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed.”
The contribution to “The Idiot” of Bowie’s electronic experimentation, which would crest on “Low,” made it an atypical Pop album, whereas “Lust for Life” was more of a return to Pop’s proto-punk records with the Stooges. In this BBC video interview, Pop suggests their working method was far from intimate.
A press statement from Egoli Tossell, the Berlin company that will co-produce the film with Range’s Altered Image, stresses that the film’s main protagonist will be neither Bowie nor Pop: “‘Lust for Life’ is not a traditional rock biopic, for no one dies at the end,” the statement says, asserting that “the central character of the film will be the divided city of West Berlin itself, which in the 1970s became a magnet for artists, hedonists, and political activists of all stripes.”
Notwithstanding Berlin’s centrality to the film and the fascination exerted by Bowie and Pop’s inspired partnership during a chaotic moment for rock ’n’ roll, the two men’s personal dynamic will be the eventual draw for most viewers. It was the inspiration for the relationship between Bowie manqué Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Iggy surrogate Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) in “Velvet Goldmine,” Todd Haynes’s unwieldy 1998 glam-rock tribute.
Bowie and Pop had partially come to Berlin to get clean of drugs and apparently lived there modestly – “semi-monastically,” says The Telegraph’s “Open Up and Bleed” review.
“There’s oodles of pain in the ‘Low’ album,” Bowie later said in a Details magazine interview. “That was my first attempt to kick cocaine, so that was an awful lot of pain. And I moved to Berlin to do it. I moved out of the coke center of the world [Los Angeles] into the smack center of the world. Thankfully, I didn’t have a feeling for smack, so it wasn’t a threat.”
Bowie had broken his cocaine addiction by 1978. With Bowie’s support, Pop broke his heroine addiction in the mid-’80s. Their meeting at Max’s Kansas City in Manhattan in 1971 was the start of what passes in rock ’n’ roll mythology as a beautiful friendship.
There’s no word yet on casting. Pop and Bowie were both 29 when they arrived in Berlin. One imagines that every eligible American and British movie actor in that age range (and some not so eligible) will be speed-dialing their agents to get them a shot at playing the Godfather of Punk and the ex-Thin White Duke.