When it comes to musical artists, the legendary David Bowie was one of the greatest of all time. With a career marked by innovation and reinvention, Bowie was one of the most flamboyant and soulful acts to ever take to the stage, inventing and reinventing his artistic persona over and over again for his adoring crowd. Now celebrated documentarian Brett Morgan delivers us the definitive portrait of Bowie in Moonage Daydream and the result is an utter work of art that lights up like a flare on the big screen.
Moonage Daydream is a 2022 documentary film about English singer-songwriter David Bowie. Written, directed, produced and edited by Brett Morgen, the film uses previously unreleased footage from Bowie’s personal archives, including live concert footage.
Regarded as one of the greatest musical artists of the 20th Century, David Bowie had a flair for the dramatic, the spectacular and the soulful, with his music touching generations of fans and taking what was previously thought capable to new levels. Having sadly passed from the plain of Earth’s existence in 2016, his was a loss that was felt by many. Yet his legacy lives on, and his songs still entertain. Now celebrated filmmaker and documentarian Brett Morgan, who delivered the definitive portrait of grunge idol Kurt Cobain, draws back the curtain on the canvas of Bowie’s life. And it makes for an utterly fantastical watch. Utilising personal audio recordings, live-concert footage, television interviews, Bowie’s many movie appearances and unseen home video footage, along with a flourish of artistic experimentation, Morgan delivers the definitive picture of Bowie as idol, artist and man. And it is awe-inspiring to witness.
From his youth as the intergalactic rock god Ziggy Stardust who brought a sexed-up excess to the world of glamour rock to his transformation into the rougher Aladdin Sane, before finding new direction and soul with The Thin White Duke and his experimental period with the Berlin Trilogy, to his new-romantic musings, exercise with electronic music and his final Neoclassicist era; all is covered and conveyed in Moonage Daydream. Awash with colour and pulsing with sound, the audience is right there beside Bowie as he plays with music and performance and comes into each one of his personas. His growth and experimentation are fascinating to watch on screen. Classic songs such as ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Rock n’ Roll Suicide’ make it to the screen, and these classic tracks are capped off by a stirring and heart-stopping performance of ‘Space Oddity’ that will make you sit up in the glory of this famed artist.
But while the visuals and music pull you in and cause a current to run through your brain of pure white heat, it’s Moonage Daydream’s narration, that holds the very words of Bowie himself, where this film finds its centre. This is Bowie’s soul stripped bare and delivered unto us. We see a young rock star grow through time and age, and with sheer honesty and integrity, Bowie’s life as an artist is delivered to us. Via Morgan’s direction, you come to truly know who this extraordinary man was in his own words. Matched with imagery and musical score, this narration from Bowie has the effect of a Greek chorus, changing through time and showcasing this man of adaptation and transformation as he seeks to make himself anew in his varied and travelled life.
As a cinematic experience, Moonage Daydream makes for an enchanting watch. With its mixture of score and imagery, it’s a literal work of art come to life. Morgan fills every part of the cinema canvas before him, and if possible it is recommended that audiences watch this film in IMAX. With the fuller scope of the theatre and its thunderous sound system, the screen pulsates like a living being with this film placed upon it and you’ll feel the rush of this presentation travel through your entire body. It’s an utter artistic spectacle in every way possible, and the experience of its sound and visuals is a key part of the emotional influence that it has on the audience.
Moonage Daydream is a breathtaking documentary of pure artistry and reverence for one of the greatest performers of all time. Bold in its expression and bringing great depth out of its subject, it’s a piece of cinema that is certain to stay with you.
Image: Universal Pictures