Even if you’re a casual David Bowie fan, you’ll want to see the new documentary “Moonage Daydream” because it’s a feast of sights and sounds, told in Bowie’s own voice.
If you’re a huge fan, you’ll be blown away, as at times you’ll feel like Bowie is speaking directly to you and you’re back in the mid-70s, dressed like him waiting outside one of his concerts in England. That’s how I felt.
“Lunar Reverie” opened Sept. 16, and you can see it in a handful of Maine theaters.
I saw it at an IMAX theater in Massachusetts and was amazed at the amount of new material in it. I’ve read a number of Bowie’s books and seen a few other documentaries about him, but this level of intimacy through photography, interviews and live-action clips is unparalleled.
The more time passes, the more I remember elements of the film and I feel a new wave of appreciation. For example, in one scene there is footage of Bowie somewhere in public, and I realized that moment is captured in one of the many posters of him I had on my wall in high school.
The film takes its name from a song on Bowie’s seminal “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” an album that’s now 50 years old but has lost none of its power.
Director Brett Morgen received the keys to the kingdom when the Bowie Estate gave him access to an endless treasure trove of rare and previously unreleased recordings, films, diaries, archival footage and performance clips. I’m as hardcore as Bowie fans, and my jaw was on the floor as my heart pounded out of its ribcage for the 140 minutes of “Moonage Daydream.” Much of what was in the movie I was seeing and hearing for the first time.
Morgen masterfully stitches together interview bits for Bowie’s voice to tell the story. Often supported by stunning visual imagery, Bowie becomes poetic about concepts like time and art.
Then there are the live images. It was stunning and included my favorite Bowie track “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” from the iconic 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, but also several other deep album tracks , like the haunting “Warszawa” from 1977’s “Low” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me” from 1974’s “Diamond Dogs.”
“Moonage Daydream” also featured a live version of “Heroes,” and that was the moment that shattered me. As the tears rolled down, I was reminded of how much I still miss Bowie and how his absence since January 10, 2016 is still felt so universally by millions of us mere mortals who still roam the earth, anchored by the legacy he left. behind in the form of 26 studio albums, not to mention several compilations of lives and rarities that continue to surface. Speaking of which, the “Moonage Daydream” soundtrack is a must-watch. Its 45 tracks include live or remixed versions of songs like “Hallo Spaceboy”, “Word On A Wing”, “Quicksand”, “Life on Mars?” and, gasp, “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud.” “Wild Eyed Boy” is taken from Bowie’s 1969 album “Space Oddity,” and it’s a terrific early example of his lyricism and vocal abilities.
The end result of Morgen’s work is a meditation rather than an homage to Bowie. It’s a fascinating work of art, and I’d be shocked if an Oscar nomination didn’t arrive in a few months.
I met some local Bowie fans who are excited to see “Moonage Daydream,” and they were thrilled to open their hearts to Bowie.
Courtney Schlachter, who lives in Lewiston and owns Quiet City Books, said her love for Bowie began 35 years ago when, aged 5, she saw the movie ‘Labyrinth’ which stars Bowie and features his music . “For a 5-year-old, it was magical and mysterious,” Schlachter said. “Books, music and movies have always provided an escape for me and my imagination, and ‘Labyrinth’ has been formative for me.”
As she grew older, Schlachter became curious about Bowie’s musical career and looted her parents’ record collection. “I love how unique and distinctive his voice is and how familiar and comfortable his songs were.”
Schlachter’s two favorite Bowie songs are “Modern Love” from the 1983 album “Let’s Dance” and “As The World Falls Down” from “Labyrinth” (1986). Her hope for “Moonage Daydream” is to see glimpses of her world and her experiences. I only wish I could see the look on her face when she sees it and gets in spades what she asked for.
Rich Gilbert and Eileen Rose are a married couple from Freeport and are both lifelong musicians and Bowie fans. They plan to see “Moonage Daydream” as soon as possible.
“I’m ready for the ride and whatever they show me because he’s one of the greatest artists of our lives,” said Gilbert, who was in high school when the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album came out. . “The impact it had on me was huge.” Gilbert also gave a nod to all of the dozen albums, from 1970s “The Man Who Sold the World” to 1980s “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”. there are no bad albums in there and most of them are stellar.
Rose said Bowie was ahead of his time, and she’s particularly drawn to his stripped-down acoustic songs like “Kooks” from 1971’s “Hunky Dory.” “He’s a great songwriter.”
Rose was also able to share a unique perspective on Bowie. For a brief stint in the 90s, she lived in Camden, England, where she played guitar and sang backing vocals in a band with Dave Stewart, one half of the Eurythmics duo and, according to Rose, a Bowie lover. . “He told me he was still trying to write ‘Moonage Daydream,’ so there was a lot of that influence.” Stewart’s Bowie obsession led Rose to a deeper appreciation of Bowie’s music, and Stewart, just for fun, would try to break down Bowie’s songs. “With an artist like that, it gave me a totally different perspective on Bowie.”
Gilbert and Rose, like me, took Bowie’s death hard. “To me, he’s one of the giants of music and art in our lifetime and he seemed like a good person too,” Gilbert said. “He stood on the right things and was obviously ridiculously smart, aware and far-sighted.”
As for “Moonage Daydream,” Gilbert hopes to see everything he has yet to see. Dude, buckle up!
Rose hopes to see a lot of Bowie just talking. “I just like to hear his thoughts on things.” She also hopes the movie is curated with care. “I think that’s what he would want,” she said.
Morgen certainly pulls it off, as does the film’s musical producer, longtime Bowie friend and producer of several of his albums, Tony Visconti.
I’ve seen plenty of music documentaries, but I’ve never seen anything as immersive and captivating as “Moonage Daydream.”
Even if you’re not a super fan like me and the people I spoke to, “Moonage Daydream” is worth checking out because you’ll be treated to a multi-sensory assortment of sights and sounds that could only come from genius that is David Bowie. I walked out of that theater overwhelmed with feelings of inspiration and appreciation for what Morgen and his massive team have done for us.
“Don’t pretend, baby, lay me down the real thing,” Bowie sings in the film’s title track. Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with this film. It’s two hours and 20 minutes into the mind, life and soul of a musical chameleon who embodied many personalities but always led with his shining heart.
Here are some of the places you can catch “Moonage Daydream” in Maine, though it may play in others soon, so check your local listings.
The Strand Theater
5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 345 Main St., Rockland, $9, $8 seniors, under 12, matinees and Mondays. rocklandstrand.com.
Open on Friday. 17 Railroad Square, Waterville, $10.50, matinee $9, $8.50 students and seniors, $7.50 12 and under. watervillecreates.org.
Playing, several days and hours. 1 Temple Street, Portland, $11. $9 children and $6 on Tuesdays. patriotcinemas.com.
Indie Film: Real-Life Heroes Emerge in a Dramatic Fight to Save Indigenous Lands