It’s hard for a documentary to put you right in the middle of the action, instead of making you feel like a spectator with a bowl of popcorn. Moonage Daydream not only places you at the center of David Bowie’s career, but also explores his process of creating art in a complex way, taking the viewer on a colorful journey filled with delightful imagery and the music that shaped his art. a generation
Brett Morgen’s chronicle of the man who created characters like Ziggy Stardust begins with an attempt to define what time is as a concept. During the first few minutes of the film, it’s easy to think that the discussion exists to delve into the impact that David Bowie’s music had on pop culture over the years. But, as the runtime progresses, it becomes quite apparent that the director intended to show time passing through the singer himself.
Each “phase” of Bowie’s career is explored through his perspective. His Ziggy Stardust tour, which began in 1972, is seen as a wild and noisy display of the artist’s raw talent. But fascinatingly, we begin a parallel journey through the many televised interviews the singer gave to the press decades ago. During these encounters, Bowie discusses concepts such as falling in love, his art, and finding meaning within his creations. A very young Bowie dismisses the notion of falling in love as useless or a disease. And this is where the true spirit of this documentary begins to take shape.
Moonage Daydream stands out because it shines as a journey of self-discovery for the artist almost as much as an opportunity for the audience to get to know him. Morgen is aware that Bowie was a very diverse creator in the sense that he would jump into a new art form as soon as he felt the old one no longer met his needs. With that in mind, he arranges the singer’s growth chronologically, while inserting interview excerpts here and there to streamline the process behind the art that is otherwise difficult to comprehend.
There’s a sense of fondness for the man and his craft that gracefully unfolds in the documentary as Bowie’s career enters the ’80s. Now a man in his late thirties, The White Duke no longer has fiery red hair. on her head as she struts across the stage in platform shoes. Instead, he is now a very quiet singer who peacefully seeks answers in Buddhism. Wearing a plain blue suit, he points out a strong rebuttal to the quote about falling in love that he had said all those years ago. He admits that he was very young and that time changed him, and that falling in love is definitely not a disease.
An admission of humanity could shed new light on a celebrity’s image and their followers’ ability to relate to them. But this particular acknowledgment by Bowie of his own growth elevates him to a more mystical figure than he already was. The bright makeup, outrageous outfits and psychedelic music dovetail perfectly with one man’s quest to answer the questions his heart whispers, and every aspect of the singer and said man come together to form who David Bowie was.
More than his relationship with love, religion and music, the film explores the artist’s relationship with himself. During the second half of his career, Bowie didn’t care much about the public’s opinion of his music, his appearance, or his artistic choices. He indulges in his own dilemma of whether he is a person he likes to be with or not. He has nothing left to prove to anyone other than himself.
Breaking down Bowie’s art and personality and then putting them back together is exactly how Moonage Daydream grabs you. In the span of two hours, Morgen paints a very clear picture of David Bowie’s career and, in the process, paints a beautiful portrait of who the man behind the scarlet lightning bolt was. Positioning itself as one of the best movies of the year, this documentary is a treat for the eyes. It is not simply a summary of a musical career, but a love letter to one of the most brilliant artists of the last century, an emotional journey through the stars worthy of Major Tom himself.
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Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream is a love letter to David Bowie, his fans and his legacy.