Featuring: David Bowie, Iman, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed, Brian Eno
Directed by Brett Morgen
The Earth’s favourite spaceman, David Bowie is perhaps one of the most untouchable prophets of the twenty-first century. The incredible output of music, performance and all-round allure which surrounded this man for nearly fifty years remains a feat of charisma which I would be hard-pressed to find comparisons with. Musically, Bowie remains an inspiration for all musicians alike, dancing from funk to punk, ambient to electronic, then back to glam rock, with a slender finger seemingly always resting upon the pulse of what the musical world needed most. Now, just over five years since his death, ‘Moonage Daydream’ seeks to relive the adventures of this singular man, with a documentary as ambitious as its subject.
The film sets out to divide the many apparitions of Bowie by decade, painting a vivid picture through sound and vision of the achievements and experiences which defined every ten years of the artists’ life. What makes for a fascinating seventies era, with the rise of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane captivating young crowds, as well as the later experimental tours of Station to Stations’ ‘The Thin White Duke,’ and Brian Eno and Tony Visconti’s incredible contributions to the music throughout the Berlin trilogy, can ultimately make the rest of the film feel as if it’s trying to summit these same peaks which formed early within Bowie’s career. Whilst there’s nothing wrong in exploring avenues of the artist’s life which stray from his musical output in later years, the film attempts to fill up these other eras with anything and everything that the man got up to, and as a result can often feel as if the narrative has lost its way amongst vaguely-strung narration and repetitive visuals.
Perhaps the greatest thing to come from ‘Moonage Daydream’s release is the gloriously remastered visuals from throughout Bowie’s expansive career, as well as the opportunity to hear his equally expansive recordings through a cinema-sized sound system. What the film lacks in a consistency to its experimental take on a life well lived, it makes up for in its specific sequences. The early uprising of Bowie and his band at the beginning of the 1970’s, as well as his later explorations across various continents, from the beaten streets of Europe’s Berlin to Asia’s Singapore, are shown in compassionate detail, capturing the exact emotions we can only estimate that Bowie was feeling at the time, in a way which perhaps only film can truly achieve.
There’s a great film somewhere within the extravagances and meanderings of ‘Moonage Daydream’. Hidden amongst the short and equally vague voiceovers is a story of a tormented artist who took the world for his own through music, fashion, art, film and everything in between. And for the moment, the best way to have a look for yourself is to take a seat at the cinema, and let this ambitious piece of filmmaking wash over you for a few fantastical hours.