Rock icon David Bowie passed away in 2016 and, for some of us, the world hasn't seemed right since. But filmmaker Brett Morgan is trying to give us a deeper understanding of both the man and his music this Fall with Moonage Daydream, a film that's part documentary, part exploration, and part pure celebration of one of music's most creative and chameleon-like artists.
Morgen, probably best known for Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, spent the better part of four years digging through material, including thousands of hours of performances and other assets, including unreleased 35mm and 16mm footage from his personal archives.
Moonage Daydream is the first film project to be officially sanctioned by the Bowie estate since the late singer's passing, which means that it's likely to not only be much better than some previous efforts (cough cough Stardust cough cough) but that it actually features plenty of Bowie's music, along with some fairly rare performances. It aims not just to traverse Bowie’s fascinating career as a musician, but also to explore his work in dance, painting, sculpture, video and audio collage, screenwriting, acting, and live theatre.
The film is being billed as a "cinematic odyssey" rather than the documentary it so clearly is, but it's such a high drama Bowie move to call it that, it's hard to be but so annoyed about it. Morgan directed, wrote, and produced the film, with Bowie's longtime producer Tony Visconti serving as its music producer. Over 40 songs were remastered for the Moonage Daydream including “Changes,” “Starman,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “The Jean Genie,” “All The Young Dudes,” “Life on Mars,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” “Young Americans” and “Golden Years.”
The first trailer dropped just a few hours before the film's premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival earlier this week. In the teaser, we see Bowie emerge onstage in the Ziggy Stardust era, before flashing through several of his ages and personas, including a voiceover from the 1998 film Mr. Rice's Secret: “It’s what you do in life that’s important, not how much time you have, what you wish you’d done."
Moonage Daydream will come to theaters in IMAX this September, though an official release date has not yet been set. (I know I can't be the only person over the moon about the prospect of Bowie performances filtered through an IMAX sound system). It will then be broadcast on HBO and HBO Max in Spring 2023.