David Bowie’s newest video The Next Day shows he hasn't lost his ability to shock, combining star power with religious imagery, including stigmata.
YouTube blocked the video early Wednesday — the day it was released — saying its content "violated YouTube's terms of service." It has now put an age restriction on the video with a warning about explicit imagery.
A YouTube spokeswoman explained the change in an e-mail statement: "With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it," the statement said.
The video is also available on Vevo, but marked "Explicit."
Bowie, 66, didn’t make a studio album for 10 years until the album The Next Day was released earlier this year.
The video for the title track stars Marion Cotillard, the French actress who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf, and Britain’s Gary Oldman, who had an Oscar nomination for playing George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
In The Next Day, Oldman is dressed as a priest who walks by a prostrate man and enters a bar filled with priests, cardinals and prostitutes. One monk is flogging himself, while another priest hands out money.
While a robed, Jesus-like Bowie sings from the stage of the bar, Oldman selects Cotillard, dressed as a prostitute, to dance with him. She bleeds from stigmata marks on her palms, bringing action in the bar to a halt.
Oldman turns to Bowie and shouts angrily: "You see this? This is your doing — you call yourself a prophet?"
The priests and prostitutes then kneel together, with Bowie appearing to bless them.
In fact, he says: "Thank you Gary, thank you Marion, thank you everybody," before disappearing.
The depiction of Bowie as Christ and the rather gory stigmata seemed to have created the greatest controversy in British media.
The video was directed by The Runaways filmmaker Floria Sigismundi.
An earlier video for Bowie's album, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), starred Tilda Swinton.