Discover the world of David Bowie in “Moonage Daydream”
Posted at 1:11 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18, 2022
“Moonage Daydream,” the first official film to explore the transcendent music and life of David Bowie, burst onto the screen brilliantly this week at the Tryon Theatre. Much like the artist at its center, “Moonage Daydream” stands apart from its peers as a uniquely realized form of the artist’s biopic.
While the majority of biopics are concerned with timeline, mapping out a series of experiences and influences in a linear fashion, adapting to an artist’s life and music, this film is less concerned with mapping the chronology of Bowie’s art than to convey the experience. of his art. If Bowie has ever been known for anything, it’s his utter refusal to be easily defined. The boundaries of Bowie’s music and existence have always been intangible and ever-changing. Bowie was not concerned with history, but rather with the future. The artistry of “Moonage Daydream” reflects Bowie, the man and the music. It’s experimental, effervescent, deep and spectacular.
“Moonage Daydream” is a documentary that defies genre conventions, operating more like poetry than history, embracing spectacle and immersion rather than an educational inclination. This film is a Bowie sensory experience, more than a Bowie biography.
This film takes its title from the 1972 Bowie song of the same name and, like many Bowie songs, has its moment to take center stage among the film’s debates. However, for a film that is interested in a musical subject, “Daydream” nevertheless proves to be a visual experience above all else, rather than an auditory one. Music enriches the visual experience, working together in melodic harmony.
Brett Morgen directs this film, bringing his honed talent for documentary filmmaking to a larger-than-life subject. Morgen, a seasoned veteran of the documentary scene, previously explored the fusion of artist and art with his Kurt Cobain documentary, “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” (2015). However, it is in “Moonage Daydream” in which we witness Morgen’s artistic pinnacle as he engages in Bowie’s artistic spectacle.
Morgen uses both never-before-seen public and private footage of Bowie in his colorful montage of moments. But the images are not limited to Bowie himself. Morgen also uses experimental and pop culture material among the content, using these disparate images and scenes to accentuate and intensify the images of Bowie, all of which tie into the narration of Bowie himself.
The two artistic practices that come together for the product we know as film are primarily cinematography and editing. The cinematographer captures the light and the images that will be used to tell the story. The editor is the one who cuts and combines the images, bringing complete order and meaning to moments of independent meaning and partial story. “Moonage Daydream” is an editing masterpiece. Moreover, it is a film whose formal construction echoes the philosophy of its subject, the value of artistic immersion and risk, the vulnerable and audacious character of creation. For anyone looking for an experience, this movie is for you. It’s a film that does what Bowie’s music does: immerse you in a beautiful, alien world.