*Arthur's Eye & The End of Glam Rock*
The movie is really more about him and his meaning of the glitter-pop era. This is what surfaces. Much more than "What happened to Brian Slade?" Arthur, as a teenager, wants to be involved in this glam movement but is rejected by his peers. In later years in his quest to find Brian Slade, he undertakes a Dorian Gray existence.
As his tutor said, those many years ago: "There were times when it appeared to Dorian Gray that the whole of history was merely a record of his own life, not as he had lived it in act and circumstance, but as his imagination had created it for him, as if it had been in his brain and in his passions. He felt that he had known them all, those strange, terrible figures that had passed across the stage of the world and made sin so marvellous and evil. So full of subtlety. It seemed to him that in some mysterious way, their lives had been his own."
N.B. Some of the following are paraphrases or quotes from "Dorian Gray", some my own opinion.
A gentleman "friend" explained to him that "Because, to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him."
Dorian Gray was obsessed with the portraits of his ancestors and as he viewed each constantly, he felt that the lives they had led were perhaps the life he was now leading. Yet it was not only those he was descended from but also many other historical characters were part of his being. Were his actions merely the dreams that someone else had dared not realise? The temperaments, the handsome faces, the passion for the beauty of others?
He believed the characters played by Sybil Vane - Ophelia, Cordelia, the daughter of Brabantio - were more real to him than she ever was.
He had a portrait painted of him and while he remained young, the picture aged over years, revealing the dreadful sins comitted by Dorian over this time.
Oscar Wilde features more in this film than one realises. As well as his introduction in the beginning, as mentioned, there are several quotes from "Dorian Gray" that are used in "Velvet Goldmine". One of my favourites is "The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history."
The repartee between Mandy and Brian when she is handing him the divorce documents, recalls a conversation between Lord Henry and his cousin, Gladys, in "Dorian Gray". Using clever comebacks and playing on words, their's was only different from the Slades' discourse due to Mandy and Brian's use of sharp epigrams, designed to belittle each other.
Arthur believed the figures in the glam-rock movement were part of his own life, the life he wished he had lived.
How did Arthur really remember Curt?
Really, we never get to know how Arthur and Curt became involved. Just like Arthur and Brian. Did it exist at all? And if so then, how much, with whom? Did Arthur just know Curt through the newspapers and television. Arthur first saw Brian and Curt kiss in a Music Magazine. Then they are more adventurous and play up on stage!!
Arthur's link with Brian Slade was actually an obsession with Curt Wild, as we later discover in the movie. Except he had never admitted to being close in any way to the people he admired.
During Arthur's meeting with Mandy, the deserted wife, she tells him that she last saw Brian, briefly at the 'Death of Glam Rock' concert, where Curt Wild was playing. Arthur asks "Which Concert?", and suddenly the scene is transformed into this concert, with Arthur there, young and glam, playing about backstage with performers and he even "sees" Mandy arrive to watch Wild perform. He also "sees" a look-a-like Brian Slade peering through in the background, while Wild performs. Is this the Brian that Mandy says she saw briefly?
Arthur notices Wild's jewel pin and tells him that it's a "Quite a fine looking pin you've got there."
Perhaps the placing of "Oscar Wilde's jewel" ( the pin) in his drink by Wild when he leaves, is the only true incident in Arthur Stuart's version of events. And why did Curt Wild do that? Passing on the pin? What connection did they have?