With Moonage Dayderam, writer and director Brett Morgen (Cobain: Montage of Heck) has crafted a shattering sensory experience that takes viewers on an audio-visual odyssey through Bowie’s career and artistic vision, using a psychedelic blend of live performances, interviews, inserts of the late musician’s own experimental video and paintings, as well as a selection of clips from other classic films (The Wizard of Oz, A Trip to the Moon, Nosferatu and Un Chien Andalouand being just a small selection of the smorgasbord of bombastic visuals on display). The culmination of all this madness creates the ultimate expression of what Bowie’s art was and who he was as an artist. Running at almost two and a half hours long, though, Moonage Daydream’s non-stop energy and abstract presentation can become somewhat overwhelming and consequently rather exhausting.
As Bowie takes to the stage and the soaring electric guitar note that signals the intro to Heroes rings through the cinema speakers, the air of the room is filled with the electrifying sound of his music while the screen is dominated by the singer’s charismatic presence. It’s a near impossibility not to sing along and become swept up in the fervour of the onscreen crowd as the musician works his magic.
Morgen portrays Bowie primarily as his Ziggy Stardust persona through most of the documentary. The singer is an enigma, a mysterious creature who descended from outer space who didn’t care for traditional gender norms or conventional sounds. He was simply who he was, and people loved him for it. One clip even shows a man saying, “Why shouldn’t he wear makeup? He’s a good-looking guy, so why shouldn’t he?”.
The documentary’s abstract structure likewise matches Bowie’s otherworldly character. It’s a collage of madness that does an exceptional job of transcribing the musician’s essence into pictures and sounds. However, after some time, this constant bombardment of surrealism can start to wear on the senses. An intermission is perhaps best advised to fully appreciate what Morgen has accomplished in this celebration of the musician’s artistry.
Moonage Daydream does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Moonage Daydream here: