David Bowie: Moonage Daydream
A cinematic experience written, directed, produced and edited by Brett Morgen
I’m always astonished by people’s different responses to cultural artefacts.
Doesn’t everyone agree that David Bowie was a genius? Well, at least brilliant, ahead of his time, ridiculously gifted?
My film companion remarked “Why is it that women seem to worship him. Was it his bisexuality?”
Beyond the above extraordinary talent, I must admit that Bowie was the most elegantly beautiful creature. Sure, he was the wild child Ziggy Stardust … but the Thin White Duke? The Man who well to Earth? Prisoner-of-war Lawrence?
Bowie had the grace of a cat whether in khaki and blonde, emaciated and a redhead, walking round Asia in white linen suit and Panama, or donning dark suits and fedoras in Berlin. He had a slightly out-of-context glamour that was always a whisper away from the real. His life was one long photo-shoot by a coked-out photographer (and as the video footage gathered Brett Morgan hits on as many 'fashionable' drug periods as it does on those ever-changing sounds of pop culture, I'm pretty sure I'm on the money here).
As a 360-degree creative, by the age of 33 Bowie had starred in two extraordinary films (‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’, ‘The Man who Fell to Earth’), one acclaimed theatre piece (‘Elephant Man’), and released double figure, ground-breaking albums. Bowie inhabited each and everyone of these creative roles and persona with illuminating precision.
Bowie ‘the vision’ was Bowie the hyper-creative. When you view ‘Moonage Daydream’ you’ll feel this frenetic energy. Bowie’s brother was schizophrenic, and Bowie felt that his own creativity was enhanced by his ability to channel his aberrant thoughts. He wanted to articulate the outskirts, the overlooked and the isolated areas at the edge.
Morgen’s film is too long. He has sought to echo the creativity of the man by juxtaposing far too much visual montage. When your subject is David Bowie, abstract footage just detracts.
I must add that the film ends when Bowie is round 45 years of age and has met the super model Iman, his future partner. It does not mention his first public relationship with wife Angela Bowie, nor the heroin habit it took him years to kick in Berlin.
I feel that Morgen has created a Bowie tribute rather than a Bowie documentary but whatever his intent (a 'cinematic experience', I believe), it is a fascinating film about a man who led his life as an adventure.