Film Review – Moonage Daydream

A Must for any Bowie Fan

I almost missed this documentary film having taken my eye off the local cinemas for a while. But I am so glad I got to see this movie on the big screen with a high quality sound system. This really is one of those productions that you need to experience in the way it was intended to be seen.

Moonage Daydream

Any fan of David Bowie will recognise from the name of the film. The movie title is also one of the tracks on arguably his most famous album when he was at his most whacky, brilliant best in the guise of the alien rock-star Ziggy Stardust. A track that ranks as one of my personal favourite Bowie songs.

Film Plot (such as there it is)

David Bowie actually narrates us through the film in which he discusses his passion for other forms of art apart from music. I never realised he was such an avid painter. He painted a lot but was never confident enough to show off his work. He also comes across as a lost soul for the first decade of his musical success. A kind of cross between the reclusive Howard Hughes and the post Beatles John Lennon looking for something just out of reach.

The film uses previously unreleased footage from Bowie’s personal archives,  which includes live concert footage. Apparently it is the first film to be officially authorized by Bowie’s “estate” (whoever the f*ck that is actually supposed to be?). The film-makers had access to thousands of items and at times it seems like they are trying to insert them all into the montages.

Bowie famously produced some of his best song lyrics by using the “cut-out” method employed by other writers. He would write things down or use magazine pages and cut them up. Then throw them on the table and rearrange until he found what he wanted. The lyrics for the song of the film title, Moonage Daydream, were supposedly done using this method. At times the documentary seems to be made using a similar method.

At 2 and one quarter hours long I thought this could be too much for a documentary. But it did not drag and was generally paced just right.

What this film is not, is a biopic, or anything like a “Young Person’s Guide to David Bowie”. I am sure someone will make that type of movie sooner or later but this is not it. That said this docu-movie does cover some of the history of his musical changes and touches on the reasons for them.

Critique

Any fan of David Bowie will definitely love this docu-movie. As someone who likes a lot of Bowie’s music (but perhaps not fanatically) I found it interesting overall. However there were a lot of things that were completely unnecessary and not even related to Bowie.

It is a complete kaleidoscope of interviews, performances and music that takes you beyond his famous songs and into his mind. Unfortunately the kaleidoscopic theme gets very real at times and goes off the charts – a real confusion of colours and images. It also gets very philosophical especially when covering his life after the early 1980s – when he finally seemed to find peace with himself.

It is highly likely that anyone who is not a self confessed fan, but generally likes some of his songs, will be intrigued by this movie but may not rate it very highly.

To summarise this film I would have to say that it is the most definitive compilation of Bowie’s performing life that I have seen. It is interesting not only for the clips of music and live shows but as much for its look inside the mind and changing philosophies of Bowie. Perhaps “interesting” doesn’t quite cut it. But also weird at times.

Overall I can recommend this docu-movie to anyone who is even remotely keen on Bowie’s music and especially those who are old enough to remember the various developments of Bowie’s music and stage characters.

Score: 2½ stars (out of 5)

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