The story of an Artist and his Model… a tale of obsession, a tale of murder. Disturbing, … nightmarish even, and more than a little homorerotic, this stylish black and white film stars a 20-year-old David Bowie and Michael Byrne. “The Image” was Michael Armstrong’s debut film – it got the equivalent of an X rating at the time of its release for the graphic gore. Armstrong went on to direct “The Haunted House of Horror” and “Mark of the Devil.”
Cinebeats – a great resource, with some solid writing on films and pop culture says:
In The Image Michael Byrne plays a troubled artist haunted by a ghostly young man who appears to step right out of one of his paintings. David Bowie plays the mysterious apparition who is haunting the artist and his unusual good looks and other-worldly appearance are used to great effect here. Bowie was just 20-years-old when he made his acting debut, but he had studied with the avant-garde performance artist and actor Lindsay Kemp who included elements of Mime and Butoh into his teaching. Bowie obviously made use of the skills he developed studying under Kemp for his role in The Image and his wordless performance as an unrelenting spectre is undoubtedly the most memorable element of this short film. But The Image also contains an interesting minimalist soundtrack and some nice looking black and white photography from Ousama Rawi.
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray probably influenced Michael Armstrong’s script and it’s possible that some might see a homoerotic undercurrent running through the film, which is interesting when you consider the rumors surrounding David Bowie ‘s relationship with his openly gay acting teacher Lindsay Kemp. But director Michael Armstrong has only described The Image as “A study of the illusionary reality world within the schizophrenic mind of the artist at his point of creativity.”
The Image was shot in just three days and completed in 1967, but it didn’t have its official screen debut until 1969. Due to the violent content of the film it became one of the first shorts to receive an ‘X’ certificate from Britain’s notoriously restrictive film rating’s board. The Image seemed to disappear into obscurity after its limited release, but in recent years it has been rediscovered and restored. This brief 14 minute film is currently available on YouTube and makes for some great Halloween viewing.”
We link to the complete version – with the previously cut first three minutes, restored.