‘Moonage Daydream’ Explores David Bowie’s Growth & Journey As An Artist – Contenders Documentary

As a musician, David Bowie transcended any traditional definition of a rock star. Through the documentary Moonage Daydream, director and producer Brett Morgen sought to transcend the traditional constraints of a biographical documentary. 

Speaking at the Deadline’s Contenders Documentary panel, Morgen shared his approach in the HBO Documentary Films project to understanding a subject as complex and enigmatic as Bowie. 

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“I felt that by avoiding some of the tropes of the biography that we’re accustomed to … I would hopefully be able to arrive at something that David sort of discussed in that sequence, which is some of the intangibles, the mysteries of an artist that are often hard to describe via facts,” he said. “So I think that the goal was ultimately this aim to invite the audience to have an intimate and sublime experience with the subject and hopefully arrive at what feels like a relatable and honest and authentic representation.”

In Morgen’s understanding, what made Bowie exceptional as an artist is that he was more in tune with the future of culture than he was with his own time.

“Bowie was able to pick up on frequencies and transmissions that most of us can’t hear, so what he’s describing isn’t the future. It’s the now. It’s just taken culture several decades to catch up with him,” Morgen said. “So the ideas of gender fluidity and the ideas of chaos and fragmentation that seemed so futuristic when Bowie first announced them 50 years ago now seem completely resonant in the world that we’re operating in.”

Morgen also hopes that audiences take away not just the nature of his artistic process but the personal cost that it extracted from Bowie to create worlds and concepts that were so far-reaching. 

“The movie is very much about how he had to push himself,” the Emmy-winning filmmaker said. “How he felt he had to put himself into the fire to create his art until he was able to arrive at a point in life where he could create amazing works of art without having to put himself into harm’s way. And that’s very much the kind of narrative of the film.”

Check back Wednesday for the panel video.

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