“Moonage Daydream” is a testament to Bowie’s life and legacy


Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Bowie in his typical stage makeup

A monologue beginning with, “Time, one of the most complex expressions, Memory made manifest,” while “BOWIE” fades onto a black backdrop marks the start of a journey that is Brett Morgen’s “Moonage Daydream.”

And memorable it is indeed. Running at just over two hours, “Moonage Daydream” is an unforgettable peek into the late David Bowie’s life and legacy.

Bowie’s estate gave Universal Pictures access to archives of his life, allowing Morgen to incorporate interviews, backstage footage of Bowie putting on makeup and even a clip of him cracking a joke while riding in a car. The footage paints a collage that is simply too intriguing to look away from.

In the film, Bowie is not depicted as being a god-like figure, but rather as an ordinary man with extraordinary talent.

The glam-rock icon is shown in his many unique iterations. From Ziggy Stardust of the movie’s namesake “Moonage Daydream,” to the Thin White Duke of “Heroes” and to Aladdin Sane of “The Jean Genie,” Bowie does exactly what the tune “Let’s Dance” calls upon its listeners to do.

Morgen does not tell the story of David Bowie, he allows Bowie to share it himself through the vibrant clips that flow throughout the film.

Interview segments that by themselves would be mundane are electrified by Bowie’s presence. Whether he’s talking about his high heels or expressing his complicated feelings towards love, the combination of cinema and music is enthralling.

We see a more vulnerable side of Bowie when he talks about his admiration of his older brother who died at a young age. We also see a collection of photos showing Bowie and his beloved wife, Iman, illustrating a softer, more intimate aspect of his famously glamorous life. The never-before-seen footage gives context to Bowie’s journey and does not shy away from sentimentality.

Perhaps the most clever part of the film is its lack of chronology, as the first song played is 1995’s “Hallo Spaceboy,” which was released long after his early hits. This gives a sense of unpredictability that may have been clunky if the film’s star was anyone other than the constantly evolving Starman.

40 Bowie songs are played throughout the duration of the movie, each one unique in its own right. The classic track “Space Oddity” is an interpolation of a studio recording and acoustic live performance. The remixed “Sound and Vision” begins with its irresistible bassline and grooves into layers of synthesizers and “blue blue, electric blue.” The anthemic “Heroes” plays in the middle of the film, getting toes to tap and heads to sway.

“Moonage Daydream” allows those of us who wish we could have seen Ziggy Stardust perform during his time to get a glimpse into what made his performances so impactful to the teary-eyed folks in the audience.

The film is a space where time doesn’t exist —an oddity in its own right. The combination of interviews, Bowie’s own commentary and music give us a stunning tribute to his brilliance that will continue to live on.

As the credits start to roll, “Starman” begins to play, reminding us that a larger-than-life personality and some rock and roll can light up the sky and that we ought to let all the children boogie.

“Moonage Daydream” is now playing in select theaters.

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