Film Reviews

“A Psychedelic Audio And Visual Immersion” – Film Review: Moonage Daydream

Nat Howarth

Brett Morgen’s new documentary Moonage Daydream celebrates the life of a powerhouse, an archetype of a “messiah rockstar” and maybe one of the best dressed men of the 20th century. Mr David Bowie, also known as The Man Who Fell to Earth, Ziggy Stardust and many other personas! Nat Howarth reviews.

Director of the successful Cobain: Montage of Heck, Brett Morgen depicts the posthumous legacy of David Bowie in an unconventional mode of documenting: he takes an unmethodical approach to depicting Bowie’s musical, acting and artistic odyssey, using archives and never-seen-before footage from interviews, live performances and voice overs. It is right to say that it doesn’t feel like a documentary, but rather a psychedelic audio and visual immersion of his influence in the music industry and his fans’ admiration.

Bowie is considered to have enlightened the rock world, merging musical performance into theatrical performance.

The narrative presents each alter ego of Bowie and his chameleonic nature: starting with Ziggy Stardust following the release of Space Oddity, as expected it was a colourful and stimulating montage of art forms and clips which exude the same flamboyancy as his persona. Ziggy Stardust was my favourite era of Bowie as his experimental eccentricity and androgynous, bright-colour scheme clothing reflected his multiple personas and reputation. The bright hues of Bowie’s wardrobe were replicated in the hypnotic and maximalist montages throughout the film, displaying many artistic mediums and colour, paying homage to Bowie’s (space) oddity and esoteric nature. As a performer, he was constantly portrayed to be pushing the boundaries of his art as his fans admire and recreate his style as seen in footage before a live performance in the seventies.

The references to pop culture, religion, music and art depict the complexity of Bowie’s muses while also enabling an audience to gain an insight into his sources of inspiration. His stepbrother, Terry Burns, had an undeniably huge impact on the person he is remembered as he gave him access to a world of culture from jazz to Buddhism to Jack Kerouac. In the documentary, we discover his stepbrother struggles with mental illness in mental hospitals before committing suicide, during a time when it was heavily stigmatised. While Terry Burns lived a tragic and distressing life with many mental illnesses, he was a significant person in Bowie’s life and should be commemorated for his major influence to Bowie’s works.

Bowie’s fervent search for self-discovery and identity was arguably the most inspiring part of the film; he often yearns for purpose as he says he hates to waste days and “all people, no matter who they are, wish they’d appreciated life more”. A poignant thought that further reinforces a desire to seize the moment, Bowie is considered to have enlightened the rock world, merging musical performance into theatrical performance. Whether he wished he had appreciated life more, there is no doubt he had a profound influence on other performers and enjoyers of rock music. His music exists in a sub-genre of rock called glam rock, a short-lived sub-genre at its peak in the early 1970s characterised by Bowie, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, KISS, Slade and many of other artists who brought a strong stage presence along with their music. Despite the fleeting nature of glam rock, artists like Björk, SOPHIE, Charli XCX have arguably reclaimed the genre and taken inspiration from the works of Bowie, using dreamy and hyperpop synths in defiance to create music within one genre.

With the release of a painful and problematic biopic about Marilyn Monroe, watching his legacy and influence unfold in a triumphant way made me appreciate his music even more prior to watching the film, it felt cathartic to see a successfully produced documentary celebrating an artist’s achievements. An iconic man that will forever be a source of inspiration in the music industry, this film does more than pay homage to his life, it also introduces a new generation to his works. A David Bowie Renaissance!

Nat Howarth

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @moonagemov via No changes were made to this image.

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