Moonage Daydream - A David Bowie Movie
by Marissa Bergen
It seems as if every iconic band or rocker is getting a biopic these days. Elton John, Queen, Elvis, and the Sex Pistols are among the many.
Now David Bowie is having his turn with the film Moonage Daydream.
Unlike other biopic films, Moonage Daydream is a documentary. This eliminates concerns over whether the film will accurately portray the rocker’s life, or whether you will be disappointed that the actors didn’t really look like their characters and so on.
It shows actual Bowie footage (including some never-seen-before stuff). But it doesn’t offer the traditional, a potentially dry, documentary format. It incorporates an artistic vision presenting Bowie as a guide on how to live our best lives. And, as a bonus, it’s narrated by the man himself.
About Moonage Daydream
Moonage Daydream was directed by documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen who is also responsible for the highly successful Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. It spans Bowie’s entire career encompassing a journey of six decades and twenty-six studio albums. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and will be showing in theaters starting September 16, 2022.
The film is being distributed by NEON publishing house whose films have won the Palme D-Or, a Cannes Film Festival top prize, three times in the past four years. The soundtrack consists of all Bowie songs and is produced by Bowie’s long-time producer Tony Visconti.
David Bowie, 1974, Photo by AVRO
Moonage Daydream is the only film sanctioned by the Bowie estate. This provided Morgen with access to all of Bowie's master recordings. 40 remastered songs recorded between 1970 and 1977 will appear in the film including "Changes", "Ziggy Stardust", "Young Americans", "Starman", "The Jean Genie", "All the Young Dudes", "Life on Mars", "Rebel Rebel", "Young Americans", "Fame", and "Golden Years".
Morgen was also granted access to the Bowie estate’s archives which consisted of five million items. These include paintings, drawings, photographs, films, journals, and the aforementioned musical recordings. The director spent four years sifting through the items to determine how to use them in the film
Early Reviews for Moonage Daydream
The movie has received several stellar reviews based on its Cannes premier. It has earned a rating of 9/10 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Here’s what critics are saying.
“A bombastic, overstimulating, poignant, life-affirming, and risk-taking summation of the artist’s ethos and maturation as a person.” – Roger Ebert
“A gloriously immersive kaleidoscopic examination not so much of Bowie’s life here on earth, but of the life he lived inside his head and his heart, which led him to create.” – Corey Seymour, Vogue
“More sensory experience than straightforward recounting… (the film) is about feeling your way through a chaotic world with Ziggy Stardust as your anchor.” Siddhant Adlakha of IndieWire.
While the story line of the movie is not presented in straightforward biopic fashion, we can only imagine that it will touch on the major incidents that impacted his life
Born in Brixton, London in 1947, Bowie became interested in music at a young age. He started pursuing a musical career in 1963, and released his first album, self-titled as David Bowie, in 1967.
The rock star hit it big with his breakthrough album Space Oddity which came out in 1969. It offered a pessimistic view of the moon landing, and its release was timed to coincide with the event. The BBC played the song over and over as an accompaniment to live filming in space.
Bowie’s fame allowed him to come into himself as he developed his fictitious rock star personality, Ziggy Stardust in the early 70’s. People reacted well to his stunning glam rock look and sound.
Unfortunately, the second half of the decade did not go as well for him as he realized his manager was swindling him out of money. He also developed substance abuse issues.
He eventually moved to Berlin to escape his troubles and reinvent himself through a period of artistic experimentation. Although he is largely defined by the music he put out in the 70’s he continued releasing albums for the next four decades.
Other events that characterized his life include the 1986 suicide of his mentally ill brother Terry which inspired the song, “Jump They Say”.
He married model and fashion designer Iman in 1992 and stayed married to her throughout his life. The two have a daughter, Alexhandia Jones, born in 2000. He is also the father of Duncan Jones whom he had with former wife Angela Bowie in 1971.
David Bowie and his son Duncan Jones. Photo by David Shankbone
Bowie eventually died of cancer in 2016 at the age of 69. His final album Blackstar was recorded in secret and released posthumously. Many feel that it held many secrets concerning the rock star’s illness as well as a few Bowie himself may not have been aware of.
David Bowie was known for creating and defying genres. His outrageous appearance changed throughout the decades but always established him as a leader in the fashion and music industries.
Those fortunate enough watched him transform through his glam rock/Ziggy Stardust era, his elegant Thin White Duke era, his flamboyant Berlin era, his trendy New Romantic era, his experimental electronic period, and his refined Neoclassicist era pulling each off with a ridiculous amount of style and class.
And if you weren’t fortunate enough to see all those transformations, or even if you were, do yourself a favor and go see Moonage Daydream. It provides true insight to an icon’s growth throughout the years. Its artistic format takes it outside the box making it not just a film, but a cinematic experience.
Photo by Rik Walton
Marissa Bergen is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, CA. She is passionate about health, fashion, and music. When she is not writing, she enjoys playing music with her son, daughter, and husband in their family band The CheeseBergens.