If you thought you knew everything about David Bowie, think again.
You might be a huge fan of the musician’s glam-rock stage… but you may not recognize the different types of media he explored during his hiatus from the music industry that ventured into the nooks and crannies deep within our own identities. If you were all about The Thin White Duke’s neatly tailored suits and later musical selections that were a stark contrast to his previous experimental releases, you might not have been totally shocked to see him perform with orchestras during his later years.
His style may have changed, but his music remains unforgettable.
And so is Moonage Daydream. Part B-movie performance art, part archive footage and part deep thoughts, this is the closest thing to a David Bowie concert that we’ll be able to experience for the foreseeable future. This posthumously released musical documentary is an audiovisual celebration full of (almost too much) overstimulation that will surely appeal to each and every one of Ziggy Stardust’s personalities.
Using unreleased footage from Bowie’s personal archives, which includes concert footage and talk shows discussing his bisexuality, among other things, this is the first documentary to be approved by the late musician’s estate. It attempts to define his relationship with the universe, and it’s wonderful, including all of his deeply caked makeup, garish costumes and of course the androgenous alien rockstar persona.
“Everything is rubbish. And all rubbish is wonderful…”
As a self-described “collector of personalities,” he never chose to do what was expected of him, almost always following his artistic freedom to whatever it may lead, from sculpting, to painting and writing TV films — he makes a point to declare they’re video television, not programs — Bowie appears at different ages, performing different eras of music, from young to old, and back again.
At certain points, the doc feels like it purposely slows down, before branching into a new direction, much like Bowie himself. Much of the time is spent in the ’70s, although spreading positivity into the ’80s is touched upon, as well as the chaos of the ’90s, which he very much enjoyed. I was disappointed neither his collab with Freddie Mercury, nor or his “I’m Afraid of Americans” timelines were even mentioned — I enjoyed both immensely throughout the years.
While my favorite time period for Bowie is definitely the ’80s, I thought he was even better as an actor in Labyrinth.
Clearly David Bowie was a complex person, full of different characters, although it’s interesting to learn that he saw himself as an empty vessel…
I didn’t get the pleasure of attending a live Bowie concert before he died in 2016. This sonic portrait, five years in the making by filmmaker Brett Morgen, does a great job of using never-before-seen footage to highlight his musical genius, although I’m surprised (AND THANKFUL!) enough forethought was used to document his global adventures back in the day.
From the online comments I’ve read, hearing the performer’s music pumped in by a state-of-the-art sound system while watching the movie play on a gigantic IMAX screen was an incredible experience. While I may have missed out on that cinematic odyssey, I did enjoy watching this screener through my laptop. I’m going out on a limb to claim that watching Bowie’s creative and musical journey on HBO (Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT) will be an even better experience.
Don’t feel under pressure… if you happen to miss the broadcast tonight, it will be available to stream on HBO Max, as well.