Moonage Daydream - a love poem to David Bowie
3.5 out of 5
It's coming up on seven years since the death of David Bowie. His work is still enjoyed by many and revered by others. I've never been Bowie's biggest fan. I think I missed out on his earlier work as I was just a few years too young for Ziggy Stardust. Having said that, documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen has created an exploration of Bowie’s life through clips of concerts, interviews and other video collections: Moonage Daydream, a film that succeeds in reminding the world of what Bowie stood for, and that there is a little bit of him in all who make an effort to create.
The choice to veer from the traditional biopic formula, in which an actor would inevitably fail to capture Bowie’s magnetism and demeanor, was certainly the right one. Morgen instead is able to create a collage of Bowie’s life that focuses on his aesthetic rather than his chronological story. Full of strobe lights and neon colors, Moonage Daydream is exactly the avant-garde fever dream that Bowie would have wanted his life to be remembered as.
Moonage Daydream mostly covers Bowie’s relationship with spirituality and creativity. While it is stated in the movie that he never considered himself a religious person, there was always an element of divinity to the way Bowie performed, and the way he was regarded by his fan base. His androgyny and charisma created the idea within some that he was a reincarnation of God, and many of his fans worshipped him as such.
In Bowie’s eyes, creativity and isolation went hand in hand. He avoided love and relationships at all costs in order to keep his creative spirit alive, and because he always felt a need to be creative, he spent most of his life isolated. We learn that he never owned a house as he wanted to travel and experience.
Moonage Daydream made a point to accentuate the fact that Bowie never stood still. Both physically and artistically, he never wanted to remain in the same place. He lived all over the world and explored all kinds of artistic mediums; while music remains what he was most famous for, he was also an avid painter, actor, sculptor and videographer - things I didn't really appreciate.
His first wife Angela is not mentioned, neither are his children. We do see footage of and hear his thoughts on Iman, his second wife which are lovely moments.
Some have argued that this movie offers nothing new to the memory of David Bowie. Although it is true that the film is full of the concerts and interview fragments that have been around for years, by interspersing editing effects and clips of different movies and footage of the time, Morgen creates an atmosphere in the film that is lacking when watching these clips on their own.
The accompanying soundtrack, supervised by Tony Visconti, and visual effects are what transform Moonage Daydream from just a compilation of Bowie videos to a representation of his life as it is.