Review | ‘Moonage Daydream’ invites audiences into Bowie’s chaotic mind

Moonage Daydream | Dir: Brett Morgan| ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

I think that this love letter documentary from writer, director, producer and editor Brett Morgen should have been called Montage Daydream as this homage to David Bowie is a collation of photographs, music videos, interviews, concert clips, movie and stage performances. They are interspersed with psychedelic animation and clips from movie classics such as Metropolis and the Wizard of Oz.

This five year labour of love is the first film to have the full support of Bowie’s estate and Bowie’s interviews supply the narration, as images from his 50 year career flash across the screen and pulsate to his music. While including artistic ventures beyond the ground-breaking music in his documentary, some of Bowie’s more popular songs didn’t make it to the final cut.

The documentary is not chronological, but allows Bowie to expand on his fascination with the universe, the stars and time; his need to set sail into unchartered waters and see how close the edge he could get; and his fear of tipping over into something like the schizophrenia that had hospitalized his half brother Terry Burns.

What repeatedly comes across in the interviews is that he was an incredibly shy person who needed to create personas in order to perform. From his early flirtations with mime to continuing with make-up and androgynous costumes as he created a Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, Bowie was aware that he was moving into areas of forbidden sexuality.

This fragmented film is certainly a celebration of the titillating Bowie at his best, challenging sexual boundaries and intelligently parrying with conservative interviewers. The chaotic collision of images and sound make it seem as if the audience has been allowed access to Bowie’s brain as it creates alternate universes.

A lot of Bowie’s earthly achievements are missed, such as his first marriage, his son and his flirtation with mind-altering drugs, but at 2 hours and 15 minutes, there is a lot to celebrate about the achievements of the boy from Brixton.

Direct from sell-out audiences at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, Moonage Daydream arrives at Luna Palace Cinemas Friday16 September with pre-screening live music at 6:30pm followed by the film at about 7.20pm.

Lezly Herbert

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