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A Bowie biopic with no Bowie songs? Stardust isn't the first to try

Many have attempted to bring Ziggy’s story to the screen. But there are ways of working around copyright restrictions

Credit to new film Stardust for even attempting to recount how David Bowie became Ziggy Stardust without using any of his music, including, er, Ziggy Stardust. Denied access to the Bowie back catalogue, most film-makers would have given up. Danny Boyle did, ditching his “wonderful” biopic in 2012 after Bowie turned him down.

Stardust finds some creative workarounds. Such as framing the story round a trip to the US where the struggling singer (a miscast Johnny Flynn) is forbidden from performing (he doesn’t have the right paperwork). On the rare occasions this Bowie does sing, it is strictly cover versions (Jacques Brel, Scott Walker, the Yardbirds). He goes to a Velvet Underground gig and listens to the Stooges on the radio, but we don’t hear their music, either. As a result, Stardust resembles a bizarre knock-off – like that notorious Turkish version of Star Wars from the early 80s.

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