Moonage Daydream not a biopic. No more than a conventional biographical documentary. No witness, no specialist will tell the camera about the ups and downs of David Robert Jones’ life. Instead, the words of the artist David Bowie collected by his interviewers over time, mostly drawn during the 70s, serve as a narrative thread for an explosive and relentless montage of the picture. Fasten your seat belts, the tempo doesn’t slow down for a second during this incredible two and a half hour tribute that flies by at the speed of light.
The director, editor and producer of Moonage Daydream, Brett Morgen, is not only a big admirer of the rock icon, he was also the first to give Bowie’s heirs unprecedented access to his archives. A treasure brought together by the artist, which has already enabled the Victor and Albert Museum to mount an extensive retrospective It’s Bowie at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2015, and where there are many hours of live concerts and TV shows, recordings of plays (when Bowie played Elephant Man on Broadway in particular), clippings, photographs, newspapers, but also experimental videos, paintings, sculptures, drawings and poems by Bowie.
“I am a collector, I collect personalities and ideas“, Bowie replied to Russell Harty in 1973 (on Granada TV) who asked him who he was. A collector in the literal sense, because he kept everything from his artistic odyssey, but also in the figurative sense: a collector of experiences and inspirations, said to combine ideas and work to “to extract fragile little truths from the chaos“. The movie, a maelstrom of fragments of images and sounds, in which some deep truth about Bowie emerges, does nothing else.
In the end, Bowie’s images and words form a breathtaking kaleidoscope, a fascinating whirlwind that paints an impressionistic portrait of the chameleon artist and his art. This organized chaos upsets chronology, mixes eras, and claims its subjectivity (it also ignores some of Bowie’s faults).
While his brother, Terry, suffers from schizophrenia and his strained relationship with his mother is discussed briefly as well as his marriage to Iman, his private life is not the subject of the film. His artistic approach as well as his many influences (mime, Asia, the cut-up of William Burroughs, On the road by Jack Kerouac, German Expressionism, Metropolis by Fritz Lang, Méliès, Buñuel, Kubrick, Oshima, and others are privileged. Like its philosophy and spirituality.
All the metamorphoses of man with a thousand faces are shown, out of order, but with an underlying connection to the subject. Because Brett Morgen didn’t just see David Bowie as an ultra creative and visionary artist gifted with all the talents. He also wants to show the lover of life who does not want to waste any day, the curiosity of everyone until the end who tries “express the mysterious depths of the mind“.
He insists a lot on the philosopher Bowie, this model according to his “aging well”, who always points to the impermanence of everything and whose spiritual quest, Buddha one day, Nietzsche the next, made him say that he believed. “to a force, a strength“, and that he observes only one worship: “that of life“.
Nice to see Bowie interviewed on old TV shows from the 70s, the Dick Cavett Show in particular, in restored quality and on the big screen (you should see this film on the big screen). His pleasant, intelligent, polite and funny way of answering questions. And the disturbing mixture she offers of blushing shyness and assurance, if of the freedom and extravagance of her clothes.
This film is also necessary in terms of music: it manages, in any case seen on the big screen (we repeat, you must see this film on the big screen), to give us the impression of attending a in its movies, in particular Ziggy Stardust, thanks to the amazingly restored images. As for the soundtrack, managed by the faithful producer Tony Visconti, it benefits from the latest technological advances in the field (Dolby Atmos) to highlight the parade of timeless hits that Space Oddity, Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, Heroes hope let’s dance. The strength of the sound is that it still becomes, let’s face it, a little boring in the end.
Frenetic psychedelic tribute to a multifaceted artist, MOonage Daydream is a work of art in itself, from which you come out stunned, stars in your eyes. Brett Morgen spent five long years of his life on this film. Even if he wanted to share Bowie’s life manual”with the younger generation“, he wanted, he admitted, to work on it until the end of his days.
Gender : music documentary
Director, Editor, Producer : Brett Morgan
Duration : 2h20
NATION : STATE
out : September 21, 2022
Distributor : Universal Images
Synopsis : Considered one of the greatest artists of our time, David Bowie has influenced culture for more than 50 years. Moonage Daydream is the first film to benefit from the support and involvement of Bowie’s family and colleagues, offering Brett Morgen unprecedented access to their collection. Through personal and previously unseen archival footage and David Bowie’s own music and lyrics, this documentary invites viewers to immerse themselves in Bowie’s extraordinary world.