An artist through and through: “Moonage Daydream” shows David Bowie as a canvas

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Through and through an artist
“Moonage Daydream” with David Bowie as the canvas

By Linn Penkert

For more than five years, producer Brett Morgen has been working on Moonage Daydream, his documentary about David Bowie. The result is more impressionistic than biographical – but just as colorful and flamboyant as the main character.

“David Bowie cannot be defined, he can only be experienced,” says Brett Morgen. And so, in his latest work, the documentary maker does not try to analyze the singer who died in 2016 from afar, but lets him speak for himself. “Moonage Daydream” is a true experience, a colorful and psychedelic journey through the life, soul of Bowie, and an incredibly creative tribute to everything the pop star has accomplished in nearly five decades.

26 studio albums, 128 music videos, 27 film and TV productions and dozens of other works are difficult to process in a biographical documentary. Not even in 140 minutes. To do this, Morgen takes an impressionistic approach: a festive montage of archive material, unseen images of live performances for ecstatic fans, Bowie’s own experimental video art and paintings, film and stage performances.

Tomorrow for “Moonage Daylight” is said to have examined more than five million fragments from the private archives to get to the bottom of David Bowie. Not David Jones, as the all-rounder’s real name was, mind you. But David Bowie, the performer, who for a long time did not want to be on stage as himself, but saw himself as a screen on which he projected alter egos like Ziggy Stardust or Major Tom. An artist through and through, who used his art for years to isolate himself and only at a later age was at peace with himself and wanted to be part of society.

Private life is left out

In keeping with his spirit, David Jones’ private life – including his first marriage to Angela Bowie, numerous other love affairs, his alcohol and drug abuse, and a career decline – is not mentioned at all. Only the tense relationship with his mother and half-brother Terry is mentioned. An exception is also made for his second wife, Iman Abdulmajid. But in the end, she was the love that got him back on track with his life.

But interviews also show how warm he was to other people. Fragments are shown with down-to-earth TV personalities who have nothing to do with the made-up, disguised and bisexual Bowie. They ask disrespectful questions and twist his mouth, but Bowie refuses to stoop to their level. Instead, he always answers sincerely, politely and charmingly. When asked by a moderator who or what he worships, he answers very simply: “Life.”

With his rockumentary, Brett Morgen, who has already been responsible for documentaries such as “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” or “Jane” about the anthropologist Jane Goodall, pays tribute to the life of a unique artist who shaped the world with “Space Oddity “, “Heroes”, “Let’s Dance” and many other works. In fact, he even lets him get up again for a little over two hours.

“Moonage Daydream” is now in theaters.

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