New film delves into the spirit and soul of icon David Bowie

David Bowie as featured in the film

Musician, actor and artist David Bowie died in January 2016 at the age of 69. 

Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, British-born Bowie had a stellar career working up until his death.

This month American biographical filmmaker Brett Morgen releases his feature length cinematic odyssey exploring Bowie’s creative, musical and spiritual journey.

After the extravaganza biopics created for Elton John and Freddie Mercury; Morgen’s Moonage Daydream is a more serious look at Bowie’s life and work. 

The documentary style film features never-before-seen footage of performances, music and interviews with Bowie across his career.

Sanctioned by David Bowie’s estate, which supplied the material for the film, Moonage Daydream delves deep into the psyche of the man, musician and artist.

Have a Go News spoke to Morgen during a recent visit to Australia to promote the film’s release.

Morgen said that Bowie’s estate shared five million pieces of material on Bowie for the film.

After filing the material chronologically, which took about two years, he didn’t know what story line he would find.

“Very quickly into the journey a through line started to emerge,” said Morgen.

“David would often return to the same themes throughout his career; ideas of time, mortality, Döppel gangers, doubles and spirituality.”

Bowie only granted interviews when he was promoting an album and Morgen said that as he churned through the material these various themes kept coming up. 

“Every couple of years I would find a chunk of interviews with Bowie returning to the same themes of chaos, fragmentation and transience, it didn’t matter if it was 1971 or 2005.

“Once I was able to establish and identify that, it became the laundry line to which everything would be attached,” he said. 

“I wanted to create something entirely experiential – my thought was we have Wikipedia which can tell you all the facts of an artist’s life, so let’s give them everything other than that.”

Morgen said he had been very blessed to collaborate with the Bowie estate which was unbelievably supportive and really loved the film.

One of the many positive themes which ran through the film was the celebration of ageing. 

“So much of our culture is geared to celebrating youth and so many young adults have a nihilistic and cynical idea of ageing, thinking we only are relevant when we are young.

“This is not a message I tried to dictate on the film. What you experienced is what I experienced going through the film.

“I thought it was unbelievably inspiring to work on a film that would provide some hope and some inspiration about ageing,” said Morgen. 

“I’m 53 and my life is better today than it’s ever been – I’ve mirrored David in that and in some respects, I was speaking through David.”

Morgen believes that life does get better as we age and thinks David got there too.

“It was really exciting to present that message and create a life-affirming movie which I was creating during the pandemic which was our darkest hours globally.

“I was in a shelter with David Bowie and it wasn’t dark in there at all – it was full of life and joy,” he said. 

Brett Morgen had a massive heart attack at the beginning of making the film where he flatlined and was in a coma for a week.

He said it happened because his life was so out of control.

“Bowie arrived in my life when I was 12 and made me feel it was ok to be different, but at 47, I received a different message which was to let go and learn how to appreciate life.

“I lost 10 per cent of my heart that day – I really don’t know how much time I have so I don’t want to waste a second.”

Morgen said that one of the things he learned from Bowie is that; if you don’t feel terrified going into a project than you probably shouldn’t be doing it, and this has inspired to him to take a new direction in future film making. 

And to quote a line from Bowie which should inspire us all to seize the day more…

“All people, no matter who, they are all wish they appreciated life more.”

Moonage Daydream received rave reviews at Cannes Film Festival. It opens in cinemas nationally on September 15. Don’t miss it!