David Bowie didn’t know his fate before creating “Lazarus,” video director says

The narrative that David Bowie made the “Lazarus” video about his own death seems to have taken a hit.

The Guardian reports that the documentary David Bowie: The Last Five Years, which airs on BBC2 on Saturday, quotes the director of “Lazarus” as saying Bowie did not know he was dying until after the video was made.

The report says,

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“David said: ‘I just want to make it a simple performance video’,” said Johan Renck who directed the video, which features Bowie singing lines such as “Look up here, I’m in heaven” from a hospital bed.

He insists the common interpretation of the video – that the singer was hinting that he was on his deathbed – is wrong, because he came up with the concept a week before Bowie received his final diagnosis.

“I immediately said ‘the song is called Lazarus, you should be in the bed’,” says Renck. “To me it had to do with the biblical aspect of it … it had nothing to do with him being ill.

“I found out later that, the week we were shooting, it was when he was told it was over, they were ending treatments and that his illness had won,” said Renck.

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Regardless of whether or not the video truly foretold Bowie’s death, the video is still obviously a powerful piece of work. And one that still serves as a fitting farewell for Bowie.

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