Telling the story of an artist is a titanic undertaking that, in the right hands, transcends chronology and the testimonies of contemporaries and critics to focus on the life, work and interiority of the artist himself. The creative process is so unique, mysterious and mystical that it takes an equally fearless artist to handle its protagonist. In my opinion, the best documentaries that have done this—Tupac resurrection(Lauren Lazin)Judy Garland: Sola(Susanne Lacy),Marlon listened to me(Stevan Riley),I'm not your black(Raoul Peck) – surrendering to artists who reveal their demons, their passions, their sensibilities, their fears in their words.
Filmmaker Brett Morgen has dedicated a significant part of his work to exploring the life and work of artists.Cobain: Montage von Heck(Kurt Cobain; 2015);crossfire hurricane(Os Rolling Stones; 2012) ethe child is in the photo(Robert Evans; 2002, directed with Nanette Burstein). Morgen told these stories with extensive audio and visual recordings from vaults and personal files, providing dense portraits of complicated and important people.
For the past seven years, Morgen has been involved with one of the most transformative and transformative artists in popular culture: David Bowie. The subject of numerous documentaries and books, as well as a highly regarded exhibition, after his death in 2016, Bowie reached an iconic level that transcended the myriad characters and personas he assumed during his glittering career.
How do you take a star and lock it away?lunar reverieHitting theaters September 16 on NEON, it's a kaleidoscopic escapade through David Bowie's many worlds and is actually Morgen's second foray into what he calls "The David Bowie Experience." The first, in 2007, was exploratory, following his groundbreaking animated documentarychicago10. At the time, neither Morgen nor Bowie were ready to move on. But a few films later, and with Bowie's death spurring a deeper appreciation for the artist, Morgen could now take on the most ambitious project of his career, the process of which was interrupted by a massive heart attack that nearly killed him, but which a tectonic shift in his worldview and creative journey would also last.
Documentary filmspoke to Morgen about Zoom after the UK premiere oflunar reverieat the Sheffield Doc/Fest. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
DOCUMENTARY: I want to go back to 2007, when you first pitched a project to David Bowie. What did he mean to you at the time and what kind of film did you want to make about him?
BRIEF MORNING:In 2007, David was a character from my youth. had stopped listening to it, probably aroundlet's Dance, but the impact it had on me as a teenager was as profound as any artist had on me at any time in my life. When I was asked to introduce David in 2007, I heardbest order, but I was not so busy with him.
They had a really interesting suggestion that said, "David doesn't want to make a documentary, but we want a non-fiction catalog film. Anything come to mind?" I wasn't driven by my own passion to make a film at the time, but the only thing I understood about David and what I built the script on was the idea of change and transition and what happens if you don't evolve.
In short, I presented a triptych. The first part was to introduce David to present-day Berlin, and the premise was: he had never released an album since Ziggy, and he spent his entire career as a one-hit wonder, singing the same night after that.
A second segment related to David and I traveling together to Southeast Asia for a press conference at the Tokyo airport, where we would show a five-minute clip from a documentary we were planning to release. But this would be the kind of documentary that David would never want to be a part of: a very talkative documentary based on celebrities. And then David would travel around Southeast Asia and China for his own interests, kabuki and Chinese opera, going to some shows, which would be like [Japanese author Yukio] Mishima, where every scene is an expression of his life.
The bottom line is that he wasn't healthy enough to start this movie at the time, and I wasn't mature enough at this point in my career to tackle a David Bowie movie.
D: Fast forward to 2016 after he died, and I'm going to step into the spotlight.aft assemblymicrossfire hurricaneas a forerunner oflunar reverie— How did your esteem for him grow? When she approached his manager again, what was on her mind this time?
BM:I would say I don't think about itcrossfireas a companion to this film. I thinkthe child staysin the photoaft assemblymilunar reverieas very aligned.
Well, I vividly remember when I first heard it.Black Star; she shook me to the core. It was such a profound work of art. I don't know if anyone has ever gotten back in shape in such a big way.
I was at an exhibitionaft assemblyat South by Southwest, visited by David FrickeRolling Stone. When she finished, he told me, "I've seen Nirvana 12 times and this is as close as you're going to get to Nirvana."
Something clicked at that moment, and I realized that most of my nonfiction explorations consisted of having experiences based on my subjects' files. I'd like to think - and it started with thisthe child staysim Bild – that films are not so much about the themes, but more about the embodiment of the themes.
My approach to nonfiction has always been based on a cinematic search. There is a wealth of information about what I can offer and present on a theater stage. And that's partly due to my deep love for surround sound and immersive sound design. So, in 2015, I created a format whose working title was The IMAX Music Experience. And the premise of IME was that there are certain artists who are so well known that we don't have to go to the movies to explore their Wikipedia entry. We can go to the movies just to experience them.
I don't even know if I would call this format a documentary. It is not fiction. It's closer to the Pink Floyd Laserium or something like that, like an immersive audiovisual experience. At the time, I thought these movies couldn't be longer than 40 minutes because that's about as far as you can go without narration. I have an agreement with BMG. Everyone seemed to agree with that idea.
The plan was to do this once a year. I thought I was ready for the next 15 years of my life. I didn't know it takes seven years to make one! I hadn't thought through the machinations of how these movies would actually work. In 10 minutes of no narrative focus, no matter how good the music is, looking at a wall with a few hundred people on it makes you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. So this later became a burden for me. But I was excited and excited and we started talking to the bands. And then Bowie passed away.
It's hard to articulate why Bowie's death had such a profound impact at this time when I haven't been an active listener in so many years. It could have been a combination of "Here was my childhood hero and he was gone too soon" and a lot of emotion. But mostly, a lot of people started digging into Bowie.
And I realized that he was the perfect artist for that kind of exploration. At this point, he hadn't delved into his history and biography, so he had no idea how he would adapt to this format. I contacted his manager, Bill Zysblat, who is now his executor, who was present at that first meeting with David.
I explained what he was interested in and he said, 'Most people don't know this, but David has saved and collected everything and for the last 25 years he has created an archive. But he never wanted to do some kind of traditional documentary. And he every once in a while he'd say things like, 'Bill, what are we going to do with all this?'"
And then the thought occurred to me that I don't need anything but material, and I'm not going to interview anyone. I just want the David Bowie experience. Bill said, "That looks great. It's a little early. Come back next year." So I spent that year doing more academic research on Bowie. We started the project in earnest in 2017, where it was growing at any time at that time. Interestingly, the film was conceived in a way ahead of the subject.
D: Or whataft assemblymilunar reverieYou are dealing with artists who are not here in body, but who are here in heart, mind and soul and in their work. How advantageous is it for you to participate in such a project format, compared tothe child is in the photomicrossfire hurricane?
BM:There are pros and cons to both. It was a challenge as Bob Evans wanted to control his narration, he knew the film was being narrated while he was speaking off camera. And I think he thought that if he didn't put it on the audio we wouldn't be able to use it and that would limit the areas that we can explore in the film.
For example, Bob never wanted to talk about how promiscuous he might have been. But it was part of the Bob legend at the time. And there's a section in the movie where Bob says, "I never go out. I stay home every night." And then a montage of him along the way, that was important because it allowed us to introduce a dishonest narrator and create friction.
But the downside of that was that I moved in with Bob for six months before I wrote the script.the child is in the photo. She knew that she was making a stock movie; She didn't need to be with him. But I lived with it for six months because I wanted to make a movie that felt like it was directed.
It is a method of direction. He needed to know how he walked, talked, woke up, ate; none of it would appear in the film, but all of it would help me get a deeper and more complex picture of him. Therefore, having a live subject for these purposes is a great advantage.
my movies upaft assembly, had been based on primary source materials. It doesn't give you an idea of who the person really is. Presents an image of the leaked media. What we occasionally look for are those moments that weren't created by leaked media.
So for example inaft assemblySo, Kurt's 50 hours of sitting around watching TV, leaving the stereo on, was probably much more relevant and insightful to me than any interview I've ever had with him in terms of trying to get a feel for how to get his mannerisms and likes and dislikes into interests. The same goes for Bowie. My favorite medium that I discovered was a three-hour video that he made in 1974 in a half-inch reel-to-reel video in which he created video art.
But it wasn't what I was filming that I found so interesting; it was the sound coming out of the chamber. Because every time the camera is turned on and off, a different scene is produced. And sometimes the camera would turn on and listen to Stravinsky. And David muttered to himself. And then it would just cut out and some people would walk through a door. And it's John Lennon.
And I knew that what I was accessing at the time was completely unfiltered, and like Kurt, what delighted me the most was the idea of this person creating for the purpose of creating themselves. Although Kurt and David are quite different, they have both worked in different media and these explorations have again sustained their primary interest in music.
D: What I found so valuable in your film was the images and audio of him talking about his process, his spirituality, his search. And being so transparent and understanding in the process, which is not the case with many artists. Talk about how those interviews with Bowie served as the basis for structuring this film.
BM:One of the things I admired about David was that he saw every moment as an opportunity to share. And even when he did an interview with an MTV journalist in the mid-'80s, before the cameras rolled, he would tell them about the books they had read. There was always: let's make this moment as rich as possible. He would be drawn to topics like cybernetics, spirituality, or mortality in his interviews.
But he is an intellectual and these questions concerned him. He has been very constant in the themes throughout his life. He would come back for them. And he was very passionate about chaos theory and fragmentation in the early '70s. And he was very excited to talk about it in the late '90s, when the world that he described in 1971 was just beginning to emerge.
When I finished working on Jane in January 2017, I had a heart attack. I had a flat line and needed CPR and was in a coma for a week.
I need to put this in context if you ask me about David's moving thoughts on the movie. Because what happened when I started my recovery is I started listening to Bowie interviews. And for someone who's just had a near-death experience, you'll hear something like -- now I'm quoting David -- "The moment you realize you've lived more days than you have ahead of you, that's the time." moment when you can really start living your life.”
In the state I was in, it was something I needed to hear. It was something he had to experience. And of course I think all art is biographical. When we create a bio of someone, it inherently reflects more of you than the person you are portraying.
My Bowie movie was made as a result of a heart attack. There was my head. So if I was making this movie in 2015 or 2007, I might have been drawn to some of those things, but certainly not in the way that I was. I began to wonder: what message would my children leave if I died that day?
And that was discouraging. And then there was David. And David was basically much deeper and wiser than I can be, am or ever was. And I realized that David's message was the message that he wanted to convey to my children. Last but not least, at two and a half hours this movie would be the place my kids would go if they are lost or confused or what advice they are looking for from their parents they can watch the movie. And that was obviously something that went back to 2015: I never expected that I would end up making a film that would be a guide to fully living in the 21st century.
D: I have some doubts about the structure. I appreciate you opening and closing with a scene from the 1960s documentary.universe, as outer space was one of Bowie's many inspirations, spanning his artistic career from Space Oddity to Black Star. When he pitched the project to Bill Zysblat, he didn't want it to be a conventional documentary; They wanted it to be a theatrical movie experience. Even so, there is a necessary linearity when talking about the training of an artist; There has to be that kind of structure while staying true to your artistic vision. Talk about the challenge of recognizing the need to see how he has evolved as an artist through his own words and his artistic intentions to make this a David Bowie experience.
BM:Well, I think this film, more than any other film I've worked on, made me deepen my belief that there are no absolutes in art and that I generally apply a very rigid aesthetic to my films before I start editing. All the movies I've made were written before I went into the editing room, and the edits don't vary much from the scripts.
So after two years of looking at the pictures and telling my investors that I was going to have this crazy Laserium-like experience, I sat down to write an experience, only to find out that I didn't know how. I am very linear in my way of thinking. Jane,aft assemblymithe child is in the photothey are written like dramatic movies, with cause-and-effect narratives and three acts.
Comlunar reverieI fought valiantly for eight months. He had tremendous doubts. By then, I had spent most of our budget before we started editing just to record all this stuff. And I didn't know how to do that.
So I tried it. I cut that first scene from the space scene pretty early on; It's like a blueprint for what the movie should be, but I didn't know how to go from there. I realized that the film would require more structure. And by examining the materials, I was able to establish a consistent story in terms of impermanence and transcendence, or some variation thereof.
Essentially, David says bluntly: "Chaos and fragmentation are my way." And I created a very flexible interpretation of that, so I think it's okay, that solid thread connects a lot of elements that helped define David. Involved in this is the cutting process, which he borrowed from William Burroughs. You could argue that his belief in absolute nothingness and his ability to stay in the now, in the moment, I was wrong to think that David created these different characters that defined him, and as you realize in the movie, it's not about characters.
I started to see David's life and career more as a series of movements, like Picasso, those periods where you would only see these dramatic changes. When I landed on this idea of transience as a continuum and that it shouldn't be biographical per se, I got stuck. I took a trick from Bowie's book, which is to get out of your own environment.
With that in mind, I took the train from Los Angeles and realized I wasn't coming back until I broke this. And 24 hours later I had the script that the movie was based on. And once I got there, I decided to play a game. And I said, okay, let's pick three songs from each album that relate to those themes and see how it goes. And I was like, oh wow, this could be the movie. And it spans his entire career. It's not just about the punches. And then it was about rearranging and restructuring that playlist and using it as a basic blueprint for the movie. And that naturally pushed me down a more linear path.
But there was no way this was going to be two and a half hours from my original idea of 40 minutes. I think the challenge then was, there's this narrative that's really about his spiritual and creative journey through life, and one of the ideas that went into the film was that I didn't want to do a biography of him. But at one point I realized that if one's action and trade is isolation and alienation, there is a limit to what you can get from someone who, before leaving, says: What's behind that?
Realizing that I was doing the viewer, the audience, myself, and David a disservice by being totally dogmatic about this, I felt an urge to peel the onion for a moment. When I did this, the idea was for him to talk about his family wide enough to invite him to the screening. And that's one of the most interesting parts of the movie that reflects on David, which is that David Bowie's lyrics are often quite elusive, often because he uses the cutting process.
Bowie talked a lot and created art that was supposed to invite the viewer to project whatever they wanted on the screen. He was intentionally vague and moody and hard to pin down, not as a person, but in his art. And I like to say that Bowie is smart, not sharp.
lunar reverieit was meant to be a movie about you, not David Bowie, trying to apply the techniques used by Bowie and make a movie that feels more than learned.
The idea was that it wasn't so much about humanizing David as it was about inviting the audience, like you do in any movie. Projecting himself, projecting his own history. My hope was that, throughout the film, people would meditate on their own lives. And they can walk out of the theater and think about their lives, not David's. And the hope was that what he's talking about would resonate with almost everyone, because it's not specific to the music industry or even the creative process. This is about life. There are words of wisdom emanating from David that are equally applicable to improving our daily lives.
D: There is a quote from Bowie where he talks about being a Buddhist on Tuesdays and a Nietzschean on Fridays. And the movie opens with Bowie quoting Nietzsche. I've been thinking about that polarity ever since. That, to me, is the key to understanding Bowie and exploring him, but I guess it's my movie, as you imply.
BM:I think it's this idea that there are no absolutes and you take pieces from these different religions and different artists and mix them together. There is an element of postmodernism or post-postmodernism. The original quote that opens the film is part of a series of interviews David conducted in which he discussed Nietzsche, Einstein, Freud and James Joyce, all of whom were deconstructing our belief system at the same time in the early 20th century.
The movie is many things. It's about the 20th century. It's about the transition from analog to digital. One of the things that is very prescient is that we don't seem to be listening to someone giving us life advice that doesn't apply to the world we live in. This was a person who, as he says in the 1970 movie, created the 21st century.
And I was aware of these fragmentation ideas, which have apparently blossomed a million fold with digital advances and the Internet. And one of the things that I found very useful about him is that if we live in a chaotic world and you accept chaos, you are kind of like bamboo. You will not be broken. Just move and accept.
That's what's so exciting about Bowie: he introduces us to a world, and as a kid I used to chase his influences whenever he got involved with anything.
And if we're trying to create a movie that strives to convey something of David's experience, what does that look like? It must be mysterious. There is a part of the language of the film in which I include visual references to his influences and inspirations. I will not explain them. I'm not saying what they are. They are there. Knowing them is like a Rorschach test. And you can derive all the additional meanings by seeing Kenneth Anger next to something else. But if you don't know them, that's okay too.
D: How was the experience of creatinglunar reverieIt has changed you as an artist and what do you see as your way forward?
BM:Ah, everything changed. It has changed the direction of my career and what I will do next. I return to Cinéma Vérité. This would never have happened on its own. This was a direct response to David and I realized that he had been in the same environment for 20 years and that he needed to change my work environment and approach so that I could grow and learn more from these experiences.
I feel like when I started the movie I was a manly child and I think I've grown. And it was probably unavoidable because of the heart attack and the need to make some changes in my life. But it was definitely inspired by David. I also feel like an artist, David taught me something. And as I mentioned before, I am an aesthetic purist.
And there is something very liberating in understanding that there are no absolutes in art, that there are no mistakes; there are only happy coincidences. I think the movie experience really woke me up in a lot of ways. It was an absolute blessing.
Tom White is the editor of the documentary magazine.
What is the quote from Moonage Daydream? ›
“Most of us don't arrive there until we've lived more days than we have in front of us and we suddenly wake up and say, Oh my god, we're running out of time.”Where did the footage for Moonage Daydream come from? ›
Written, directed, produced and edited by Brett Morgen, the film uses previously unreleased footage from Bowie's personal archives, including live concert footage. It is the first film to be officially authorized by Bowie's estate, and takes its title from the 1972 Bowie song of the same name.What is Moonage Daydream movie about? ›
Enter filmmaker Brett Morgen's riveting Moonage Daydream, an epic documentary that promises to deliver on all Bowie's eccentricities while not dishonoring the myth behind the legend. Moonage Daydream is an explosive mixture of previously unreleased archival footage of Bowie and live concert footage.How long does Moonage Daydream last? › Who are David Bowie children? ›
David BowieWhy is Moonage Daydream so good? ›
Part-visual memoir and part performance film, Moonage Daydream doesn't just allow us to look back at some of the eras and alter-egos we know Bowie best for, but also showcases him as the complete artist- a man as fascinated by movement, theatre and the canvas as he is stage.Why did David Bowie have two different colored eyes? ›
What Bowie actually suffered from is called anisocoria: namely that one pupil was bigger than the other. It means that the iris - the coloured bit - can't react to light in the same way as its fellow, so the area appears to be darker. This means it looks like one eye is a different colour to the other.Who played the guitar solo on Moonage Daydream? ›
Hear Mick Ronson's isolated guitar solo on David Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream' We thought there was no better time to celebrate the late, great Mick Ronson than on what would've been the guitarist's 74th birthday.Will Moonage Daydream be available to stream? ›
Moonage Daydream, a music movie is available to stream now. Watch it on Vudu, Prime Video, Redbox. or Apple TV on your Roku device.
Is Moonage Daydream only in IMAX? ›
David Bowie Film Moonage Daydream to Release Exclusively in IMAX - Boxoffice.Will Moonage Daydream be on DVD? ›
Pre-order your copy of Moonage Daydream on DVD & Blu-Ray now!Is Moonage Daydream a good film? ›
Brett Morgen's David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream boasts a pitch-perfect technique in eulogising the iconic pop star's life and art. December 15, 2022 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…What is the age rating for Moonage Daydream? ›
Rated PG-13 for some sexual images/nudity, brief strong language and smoking.What is the meaning of Moonage? ›
New Word Suggestion. Probably a reference to the age of moon travel. Invented by David-Bowie and used in his famous song “Moonage Daydream “Does daydream make you high? ›
The hemp extracts are rich in nutrients and contain no traces of THC or CBD, so you'll get all the stress-melting and anti-inflammatory benefits without getting high.What happens if you maladaptive daydream too much? ›
Maladaptive daydreaming can cause problems with work, studying or reaching other goals a person sets for themselves. Feelings of shame and guilt. People who experience maladaptive daydreaming commonly feel bad about doing it, especially when it interferes with other parts of their life.What happens to your body when you daydream? ›
Scientists think we spend up to half our waking lives thinking about something other than the task at hand. So what happens when our minds wander? Researchers have studied the phenomenon of daydreaming and found that when you daydream, parts of your brain fall asleep, while the rest stay awake.What did David Bowie suffer from? ›
On 10 January 2016, English musician David Bowie died at his Lafayette Street home in New York City, having been diagnosed with liver cancer 18 months earlier. He died two days after the release of his twenty-sixth and final studio album, Blackstar, which coincided with his 69th birthday.Why did David Bowie change his teeth? ›
By 1980 the Serious Moonlight star had serious ambitions to crack America and there is evidence that his teeth had been whitened although there is still misalignment. The video footage shows that Bowie had recession of the gums, with signs that his chain-smoking habit was leading to further staining.
Why did Bowie have a black eye? ›
Back in 1962, Bowie came to blows with a friend over a girl. Bowie got punched in the face and it scratched his left eye. From then on, his life changed forever.What are 3 benefits of daydreaming? ›
Not only has daydreaming been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, but it also helps with problem-solving and enhances creativity. And when it comes to setting and achieving goals, taking the time to think for pleasure has also proven beneficial.Are people who daydream more intelligent? ›
Daydreaming may indicate intelligence and creativity, according to new research. “People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering,” says Eric Schumacher, an associate psychology professor from Georgia Tech and coauthor of a new study.Is daydreaming healthy for the brain? ›
Daydreaming has often been considered the stuff of losers and slackers. However, recent thought has shifted. Nowadays, daydreaming is known to be a natural, healthy resting state of the brain. Research shows that daydreaming can be used as a tool to help you through your next big decision or deadline.What is the 3 rarest eye color? ›
Gray: The Rarest Eye Color.
|EYE COLOR||U.S. POPULATION||WORLD POPULATION|
|Brown||45%||55% to 79%|
Green irises (the rarest eye color) have less melanin than brown eyes but more than blue eyes, for instance. “Brown is on one end, blue on the other, and hazel and green are in between,” Dr. Patel says. This also means that brown is dominant and blue is the least dominant, also known as recessive.What is the rarest eye color mix? ›
There's a little genetic tweak that makes the combination of red hair and blue eyes the rarest of them all.Who sang Moonage Daydream at Bowie Celebration? ›
How Sound Crew Spent 18 Months Turning Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream' Into an Immersive 'Fever Dream of Sound and Vision'Why is Moonage Daydream a 15? ›
Sexual Content: There are several sexually suggestive gestures, images, and song lyrics. Profanity: There is one use each of a sexual expletive and a scatological term, and infrequent uses of terms of deity.
What song is played during the last scene of the last episode of the anime series Sakamichi no Apollon? ›
"Altair" by Motohiro Hata is the closing theme for the anime adaptation of the series.What Coldplay song did David Bowie turn down? ›
David Bowie Turned Down a Coldplay Collaboration, Saying "It's Not a Very Good Song" Will Champion: "He was very discerning. He wouldn't just put his name to anything. I'll give him credit for that."What was Bowie's biggest concert? ›
The largest crowd for a single show during the tour was 80,000 in Auckland, New Zealand, while the largest crowd for a festival date was 300,000 at the US 83 Festival in California. The tour sold out at every venue it played. Bowie used boxing (of which he was a fan) to get in shape for the tour.What did Bowie sing at Freddie Mercury tribute concert? ›
Highlights on the night included George Michael and Queen performing 'Someone To Love', (with the singer later revealing he was singing the song to his partner in the audience who was dying of AIDS), David Bowie and Annie Lennox singing 'Under Pressure' and Queen, Elton John and Axl Rose giving a stunning rendition of ...