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Bardo “Let’s Dance” sequence

This is a clip from a Netflix movie called, Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. Though I read about it, I won’t try to summarize the film because I haven’t seen it. It might be great and it might be terrible, but this clip is worth watching.

The camera follows a character at a dance club, really enjoying himself amidst many people having a good time. The first three minutes feature Latin music and dance, but just after the 3-minute mark the music changes to Bowie singing “Let’s Dance.” And that’s all we hear— just the voices of Bowie and his backup singers, the familiar music from the instruments accompanying the vocals have been stripped away. So too has any sound from the club. All we hear are the voices of the singers. That helps us focus our attention on the central figure, dancing by himself, apparently in a state of ecstasy. I don’t know the larger context of how this scene fits into the story, and it would be nice if what we see here is what it appears to be— a person who is just very happy dancing to the music.

The other thing I’ll touch on here is the first word of the film’s title, “Bardo.” The concept of Bardo comes out of Buddhism, or at least a type of Buddhism, and refers to the state between death and rebirth. Again, I don’t exactly know what this has to do with the movie itself, but curiously, there’s another Bowie connection: the song, “Quicksand,” includes the line, “If I don’t explain what you ought to know; You can tell me all about it on the next Bardo.”

A few commentators have raised this line since Bowie’s death, (for instance, Leah Kardos named a chapter in her book, Blackstar Theory, “The Next Bardo”) hoping that the Buddhists were right and that Bowie exists in that state right now, getting ready for reincarnation.

I share this hope, but I’m not terribly optimistic. In the meantime, this clip reminds me, as if I needed reminding, what joy his music still can bring to the material world.

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