Brett Morgen thought of calling his film simply Bowie.
Because for the director, there is no David Jones, the first name of the British rock star who metamorphosed into David Bowie.
With glam-rock icon Bowie, “It’s all played. He’s a musical performer. He plays. His interviews are a form of performance,” says Morgen.
Instead, Morgen chose to name his “immersive musical experience” “Moonage Daydream”, after the 1972 song by Bowie’s classic “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars” album, dazzlingly referenced via never-before-seen concert footage. The film, in theaters Friday, arrives on HBO next spring.
What Morgen has crafted is not a documentary in the traditional sense, but a kaleidoscopic mix of sound and image. Hundreds of mixed images – newspaper clippings, meteors, monster movies, classic commercials and entertainment — are knit together, serving as bridges for the singer’s clips as they glide through the film.
There is no linear timeline. No biographical statistics, other than a brief examination of Bowie’s little-discussed schizophrenic half-brother, Terry. Nothing about his personal life other than a few references to his beloved wife, Iman. And not much sound 2016 cancer deathsr at age 69, only briefly implied.
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There are no talking heads in “Moonage” either. In fact, no voices are heard outside of Bowie’s, other than interviewers like Dick Cavett in vintage music videos.
“If you can spell it out in a book, it probably doesn’t need to be in a movie,” says Morgen, who has made documentaries about the Rolling Stones (“Crossfire Hurricane” in 2012) and Kurt Cobain ( “Montage of Heck”, released in 2015). “Having people talk about his greatness doesn’t bring you closer to know Bowie. The key to understanding Bowie is not understanding Bowie.
Indeed, images of Ziggy Stardust — with Bowie’s shadowy cheekbones a lovely fixation — remind us of his enigmatic, mystical glory, especially during “All the Young Dudes,” while his ’80s comeback with “Let’s Dance” features the Bowie of suspenders, suits and still slippery hips.
“Daydream” is as oddly brilliant as Bowie himself, a head-spinning trip backed by an amazing soundtrack – live and studio performances – including “Heroes”, “Ashes to Ashes”, a mix of “The Jean Genie” and “Love Me Do” by the Beatles and a muscular remix of “Modern Love”.
The film was blessed by the Bowie Estate, which gave Morgen the freedom to browse his art vaults, a process that took two years and the first time anyone had had such unlimited access. Bowie was also an artist, and his fascinating artwork – highlighting his non-musical talent – as well as his acting ambitions and penchant for travel are also duly explored.
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In addition to Bowie’s artistry, “Daydream” highlights his keen intellect. Whether it’s delving into bisexuality in ’70s interviews — a taboo subject amplified by Bowie sitting in full Ziggy Stardust attire — or becoming a philosopher (“The person who craves a lot of affection isn’t particularly good at giving,” he says of the strained relationship with his mother), Bowie is quick-witted and insightful.
Morgen, who calls himself an “intellectual dwarf” compared to Bowie, says he suffered a near-fatal heart attack in January 2017 at the age of 48, just as he began work on the film.
That summer, “I started listening to Bowie and realized that he basically provided a roadmap on how to live a balanced, fulfilling life,” Morgen says. “For a while, I learned to live again. It was a bit of a resurrection. »
The gift of Bowie’s Inspiration pushed Morgen to continue his odyssey, in which he didn’t try to explain Bowie to the masses, but instead allowed his music and artistry to resonate, but fans choose to embrace it.
“I’ve had an amazing lifesays Bowie at the end of the film, reflecting on his accomplishments. “I would love to do it again.”
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