The Unmade Diamond Dogs Film

IMG_4991David Bowie – Diamond Dogs – The Film!

By Madeline Bocaro 

© Madeline Bocaro, 2018. No part of this site may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.

In 1974, Bowie abandoned his Ziggy Stardust character and morphed into Halloween Jack.  He dazzled us again with Diamond Dogs.

Here are some very important items from the David Bowie Is exhibition that were easy to miss amidst the chaos and enormity of it all.

Throughout the exhibit, there are so many clues to future imagery in all of Bowie’s writings and fashions. It was cool to see the Hunger City model set by Mark Ravitz, the original painting for the album cover by Guy Peellaert, and David’s raincoat worn during ‘Sweet Thing’ on the Diamond Dogs tour!

An aborted film script for Diamond Dogs is set in a ‘Mythological’ time in the decaying remains of Hunger City. Food has become ‘a legend’ and people subsist on a protein-stimulant called Meal caine! The ‘crazed’ inhabitants wear ‘rags of cloth and plastics and furs.’ Sounds like us in the (future) days of Punk! ‘They dance or gyrate at un-predetermined moments.’ This reminds me of the erratic dancers in the club (Hurrah!) in the ‘Fashion’ video, and also of the jerking Blackstar dances.

On the Diamond Dogs film set, a revolving building disintegrates upon each turn, at first it is shiny white and chrome, then it appears rusted, then gray and cracked.

There are notations of “‘Berlin Dada’, “cabaret’ movie, collage…” The lettering was to read The Power of “DADA”VID BOWIE  incorporating Dada into his own name!

Another scene depicts Andy Warhol as a nucleus of a cell/group of cells. There is also a Mr., Miss., Ms. Robot contest!

A screen projects “interference from enemy forces as ‘leader’ gives speech to masses in stadium or factory.”

This was going to be an incredibly strange film!!! It evokes the creepy feeling we get while hearing the simultaneous chant of the words ‘Brother’ and ‘Riot’ a the end of ‘Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family’ on the album.

All little Johnny Rottens and Sid Viciouses really. And, in my mind, there was no means of transport, so they were all rolling around on these roller-skates with huge wheels on them, and they squeaked because they hadn’t been oiled properly. So there were these gangs of squeaking, roller-skating, vicious hoods, with Bowie knives and furs on, and they were all skinny because they hadn’t eaten enough, and they all had funny-coloured hair. In a way it was a precursor to the punk thing.” – Bowie

When you rock and roll with me

No one else I’d rather be

Nobody down here can do it for me

I’m in tears again

When you rock ‘n’ roll with me

David got his Diamond Dogs album inner sleeve look from the flamenco band Carmen who appeared on his 1974 American TV special The 1980 Floor Show.

Read my interview with Carmen here:

Do The Fandango – The Story of Carmen


Bowie also wrote a scenario for a Young Americans movie in 1975, featuring the return of Major Tom, which had vivid premonitions of the plight of Thomas Jerome Newton, and of actual scenes in The Man Who Fell To Earth. This proves that David had much more input into the Newton character and the film than was ever realized, more than a year prior to filming.

Bowie had just as many fantastic unrealized ideas as he had completed ones. It is mind-boggling!

The wild audience sound at the start of the Diamond Dogs album is actually from the live Faces album Coast To Coast – Overture and Beginners. You can hear Rod Stewart shouting, “Hey!” after the guitar riff starts.

Another (related) note: The raving audience applause on Lou Reed’s Rock N’ Roll Animal album is culled from a John Denver concert according to Dennis Katz, who mixed Lou’s album.

© Madeline Bocaro 2018. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent Madeline Bocaro. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Madeline Bocaro is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission of Madeline Bocaro.

Color key character schematic:






David’s makeup concept sketch.



8 thoughts on “The Unmade Diamond Dogs Film

  1. This is tremendous, Madeline! Thank you so much for sharing. I was one of the people who missed this when I attended the Bowie is show. The only thing I remember seeing is the costume!

  2. I believe Michael Jackson videos and short films were inspired by those ideas which should’ve happened!

  3. Fantastic story and typically brilliant picture selection. Wonderful. The wider Ziggy and post-Ziggy milieu is the stuff dreams are made of. Finding the ‘jukebox musicals’ craze of a few years ago (and still going??) a bit staid and predictable, very much the commerce side of pop winning out over the art (it’s always an arm wrestle between the two), a friend and I fantasized a grand ‘Ziggy’ musical, incorporating pre and post elements, such as ‘Oh You Pretty Thing’, ‘Queen Bitch’, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs (the post ‘Five Years’ apocalypse second act, with ‘Future Legend’ to a darkened theatre before curtain up). Then we realised that the beauty of Ziggy, with all it’s mismatched Frankensteined elements, is that there is plenty of space for the listener to insert him/herself, and conjure the world to his/her liking. I think this was deliberate, leaving these blank spaces – Bowie was definitely hip to the idea that ‘the viewer completes the piece’. We’re all carrying enough around in our heads to fill in narrative gaps, handle jump cuts and provide our own splices to improve continuity. DB was throwing out iconic elements, symbols, much like the Tarot cards on the cover of Man Who Sold The World. The last thing Ziggy needs is a definitive storyline or ab explanation, he/she/it is decidedly not the Rocky Horror Show. Sorry, I got abit carried away. What do you think to the theory that Bowie was moving so fast in the 70s, the next album always begins on the previous one (Queen Bitch > Ziggy, 1984 > Young Americans (kind of …)). The elements that transferred over to the masterpiece The Man Who Fell To Earth … it’s a frenzy of creativity that is literally breathtaking. Wow. This was a thrilling read, you are one of the lights of my life, look forward to your next post. Love on ya!

Leave a Reply