Riveting, ravishing, richly sourced, and far too long, Brett Morgen‘s archival Bowie bonanza, Moonage Daydream (2022), is one for the fans, the inquisitive spectator, and the man himself — a definitive drive through the opus and the psyche of the intellectual equivalent of a Tesla in music (whom he once portrayed on screen) — all vintage footage and fragmented fantasy, narrated philosophically beyond the grave by Ziggy Stardust himself, as is ceremoniously fitting.
Authoring such pitch-perfect docs as The Kid Stays In The Picture (2002), Morgen was an excellent choice as helmer of this first officially sanctioned film on Bowie, as he knows how to stay on target, entirely focused on his subject, without the liabilities of a lesser director insisting on infusing personal content in what is essentially a stream of consciousness story on an era-defining genius.
And as an exploration on the inward workings of genius, this doc provides ample material for anyone eager to understand how one individual could have had such a lasting influence on a art form, or rather a cross-section of various art forms — as Bowie, himself, was so wonderfully down-to-Earth and wise, as well as a poetically eloquent storyteller.
The pure joy of this incredibly cinematic psychedelic ride is only tainted by the length of the ride itself, for at some point, the doc loses its shape, and free-falls into a meandering maze of imagery, not unlike Bowie’s idea of the workings of the urban mind.
This was doubtlessly done on purpose, but while celebrating Bowie’s postmodernist world-view, the doc loses sight of the intricacies of its own medium — and in its intelligent lack of major intervention in content, seemingly forgets the absolute necessity of decisive intervention in form.
I sort of understand how one would be loath to leave anything precious out of this cornucopia of Bowie materia, but one of the things we learn about the artist in this doc is that he would have cut it down to size in a heartbeat if he would have assessed that’s what it took to be razor-sharp in style.
Choosing art over deference.
Author: ©Milana Vujkov