In 2017 the estate of David Bowie presented filmmaker Brett Morgen with over five million assets including never-before-seen drawings, recordings, films and journals.
Moonage Daydream is the result of the four years Morgen spent going through the material and the further 18 months he spent designing the documentary’s soundscape, animations and colour palette.
According to Bowie fans he’s done a remarkable job, even though there are a few quibbles about what’s been excluded. Everyone it seems has their favourite concert, song or memory.
Those of us who aren’t necessarily fans but who are interested in knowing more about his life and work are likely to be equally as satisfied. At the same time there may be some gaps which may result in a few Google searches after seeing the documentary!
Moonage Daydream doesn’t follow a standard chronological biographical portrait, although it does cover the many different phases of Bowie’s career and musical journey.
The explanation for each phase is narrated by Bowie as a result of the splicing together of the many television interviews he did over his long career. This gives us an understanding of his mindset for his multiple artistic evolutions and personalities.
His comment in one of the interviews: “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area,” helps explain his many changes in direction.
Through these interviews we also learn about his confused upbringing, with his cold mother and schizophrenic half-brother and the impact of meeting his second wife Iman.
We also learn of his insecurities about his paintings and his often changing but ever-present philosophical thoughts and beliefs.
The 140 minute documentary is a multi-media production full of kaleidoscopic imagery mixed with animations, well known and never before seen concert performances and home movies.
It’s loud, bombastic, colourful and action-packed and often exhausting to watch thanks to its visual effects. Given how the information is presented it also takes some concentration.
At the same time by the end of the documentary, you feel you have an understanding of who Bowie was and why he wrote the music he did. And there’s the chance to again hear many of his hits and see him perform on stage.
Given his creativity you get the feeling he would have approved of, and thoroughly enjoyed watching, Moonage Daydream.
Moonage Daydream releases in cinemas around Australia on September 15.
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