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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Gay > Legend Of Leigh Bowery (Documentary)

The Legend Of Leigh Bowery (Documentary)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Program: B-



Not many have heard of Leigh Bowery, except for the fashion conscious and definitely a segment of the Gay community.  The recent documentary The Legend Of Leigh Bowery uses many clips and interviews with people who knew him (some of whom we know, like Boy George & Rosie O’Donnell) to try and tell his story.  We get the biographical information, the revelation of his homosexuality, and his rise to the outrageous side of fashion and influence.


We even see many of these fashions, which often turn him and those he dresses into live-action cartoon, sexual satires and even objects.  Some of the concoctions (the only way to describe what he managed to come up with) are more like New Wave versions of a disguise from Get Smart, but the variety and diversity is extraordinary in themselves, even if they cannot be figured out.  Some of the items, along with the documentary, are R to NC-17-rated in nature and the DVD is dubbed unrated, so expect the unexpected.  The only problem is that, despite his obvious influence (think of Grace Jones’ avant garde Music Video classics), the program at no time asks what the designs mean or give us an idea of how influential these really were.  At 88 minutes, they could have asked the interviewees and some fashion critics their opinions on this, but it sticks with Bowery’s story.  That is fine, but just not as well rounded as it could have been.  The result is we learn more legend than fact, and this was not even the Wild West.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image varies in quality throughout, but has the advantage of being colorful, not just because of Bowery’s outfits, but because much of the footage was captured on PAL video and better formats.  As for the sound, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds and is sometimes monophonic in certain clips.  That extends to the older extras, which include an odd bit where Bowery swings upside down into a sheet of glass naked after a speech and a naked guitar player tries to emulate Lou Reed circa Metal Machine Music in a dual-angle segment that uses the rarely used DVD player multi-angle feature.  Atlas and producer Lucy Sexton offer an audio commentary that is useful, Rosie O’Donnell offers her personal reflections on finding out about Bowery, additional comments form the interviews not in the main feature, an isolated and complete short video work of Bowery and company and a stills gallery of his many outfits.


Though not for everybody, The Legend Of Leigh Bowery I still something to see, even if fashion and Gay culture are not your think, as the work alone was just too different to be ignored.  How ahead of his time Bowery was remains to be seen, but this is a solid starting point in which to find out.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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