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"Life on Mars?"
12 May 1973

Radio/TV/Film/Video Index

Recorded: 12 May 1973
Director: Mick Rock

Video Credit: David Bowie

Mick Rock filmed and directed David Bowie's fourth promotional video LIFE ON MARS? (3:55 minutes) at an all-white studio on Ladbroke Grove around the 12th May 1973 to accompany the singles release on 22nd June 1973.

Mick Rock states that along with Space Oddity (1972) and The Jean Genie (1972) film promotions, this video was produced for less than $350, shot in one day and edited in less than two days.  Of the three it is his favourite.

"LIFE ON MARS was the final in a quartet of 16mm promo films I produced and directed for Bowie.  John I'm Only Dancing, The Jean Genie and Space Oddity were the other titles.  In all cases I waived any fee for their promotional usage.  Nobody had any idea at the time that people would one day pay money for such things.  Twenty years later these four promo films are featured in a retrospective video package of tracks from Bowie's RCA years.  In truth, if I had solicited compensation, these films would not have been made.  Promos were not part of any regular budget and only David and I were enthusiastic.  DeFries agreed to spring for the expenses to keep David happy and I got to further my interest in film.  The key for me was that, within the confines of tiny budgets, I had total creative control.  David was happy to let me make all the shooting and editing decisions.  What was important to him was that they got made.  As in all aspects of his career, at this point, David exhibited uncannily prescient instincts.  It's important to note two special ingredients which made Life On Mars such a memorable promo.  The dazzling turquoise suit made by longtime Bowie confidant and clothes designer Freddie Burretti (David never wore the suit again), and the exquisite make up rendered by glammeister Pierre Laroche, the man who applied the lighting bolt motif on Aladdin Sane." - Mick Rock

"I wanted to do something that looked a little like a painting." - Mick Rock (1998)

The original version of this promotional video contained images of Bowie singing and cutting to scenes of young girls reaching out their hands to him at a Ziggy concert. Parts of it can be seen playing in the top right hand of the screen for the "Fame 90" on  BOWIE - THE VIDEO COLLECTION (1993).

Re-edited video

The version currently found on BOWIE - THE VIDEO COLLECTION (1993) is a re-edit of the original with the audience scenes removed and Bowie digitally bleached to emphasis his eye and lip make-up.

Reportedly an alternative promotional film of "Life On Mars" was shown once on Top Of The Pops (BBC), made up from various clips of the Nationwide David Bowie Special plus footage of Tony Curtis and Lulu arriving at the Hammersmith Odeon show on 3rd July 1973. This film was only broadcast once on 12th July 1973.

Recently surfacing amongst Bowie collectors is a 16mm film by Mick Rock (which was transferred to video by Mainman in 1995) which contains additional "Life On Mars?" out-takes.

 Pierre La Roche & David Bowie

---This page last modified: 06 Jan 2019---

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