Blu Ray Review: Moonage Daydream (2022)- Criterion Collection

Aaron ConnBlu-Ray Review, Movies, Music, ReviewsLeave a Comment

Moonage Daydream blu ray

Moonage Daydream blu rayDavid Bowie never wanted a biopic made about his life. While this hasn’t stopped anyone from doing so (see 2020’s disaster Stardust), Bowie’s estate has done very well with sticking to the late singer’s wishes.  With that, there have been several different documentaries on Bowie’s career over the years.  Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream is perhaps one of the most immersive documentaries ever made on any musician. When released last year, it received critical acclaim and rightfully so: it’s a visually stunning and gives insight as to how Bowie’s mind worked. In this month of September 2023, the Criterion Collection have added Moonage Daydream to their list of releases. Criterion have done it once again: from the bonus features to the movie itself, this release of Moonage Daydream is splendid.

The movie
Moonage Daydream isn’t your typical rock documentary. Typically with rock documentaries, it’s usually one of three things:

– the subject’s story told from beginning to end (The Sparks Brothers)
– the subject’s story told, mixed in with what the subject is doing at the moment the movie is made (Anvil)
– a specific period in the subject’s life, whether at the time it happened or decades after it (Gimme Shelter)

Moonage Daydream takes a different course: it starts off during the Ziggy Stardust era and then works its way forwards and backward. This makes sense, considering the general public wasn’t interested in Bowie until the release of  Ziggy Stardust and subsequent tour. So in a way, the audience is learning about Bowie similar to how people from the early 1970s found out about him. As the years went on, people would see how Bowie kept reinventing himself over the years.

In the typical rock documentary, viewers are usually supplied with many interviewees/talking heads. This is, however, not the case for Moonage Daydream. The one and only person speaking throughout the entire movie is Bowie himself over the many years of his career. This is one of the best aspects of the movie: you don’t have any other musician, rock historian or journalist telling you about what Bowie was like. Bowie tells you about himself, albeit sometimes with an interviewer. Throughout the movie’s 2 hour runtime, Bowie talks about almost everything: music, art, life, mental health and a slew of other topics.

While there is plenty of David Bowie to be seen in this movie, Brett Morgen gets creative with his use of archival footage. Some of the visuals seen in Moonage Daydream are not of Bowie. You may see the occasional movie clip being used to tell Bowie’s story. For example, you’ll see scenes from A Clockwork Orange and The Seventh Seal. One might wonder why these things are in a movie about David Bowie and the answer is quite simple: the former had an influence on Bowie’s lyrics (the Droogs’ lingo) while the latter was made into a song by Scott Walker, one of Bowie’s favorite singers.  It’s these sorts of unique ways of storytelling that really make the movie unique.

If the movie had any downsides, it would be the lack of information about Bowie helping out fellow musicians. In his life, Bowie had many friends and used his star power to help them out. This movie, sadly, doesn’t mention any of them. So don’t expect to hear anything about his friendships with Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop or Lou Reed. It’s just Bowie talking about himself and anything else. The movie also stops a little after Let’s Dance, but there’s a reason for that: Bowie had become a celebrity. He was acting in movies and making money. The movie does, however, show he did make a “return-to-form” from the Outside album and onwards.

The bonus features 
David Bowie liveThe DVD and Blu-ray of Moonage Daydream that was released last year had little to no bonus features. With the Criterion version, there are a few:

– Q&A with Brett Morgen, Mark Romanek and Mike Garson at the TCL Chinese Theatre
– Interview with rerecording mixers David Giammarco and Paul Massey
– An unreleased live performance of “Rock N Roll With Me” from 1974
– Trailer
– Essay written by film critic Jonathan Romney, with a poster on the back

These are nice additions to have along with the movie itself. Given that this is a recent movie, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be too many bonus features. Personally, I would’ve appreciated a subtitle option that showed the source material of the videos used, similar to what Criterion did for The Velvet Underground documentary last year.

Conclusion
If you are a Bowie fan, you must have Moonage Daydream in your collection. If you missed the DVD/Blu-ray release from last year, you’re going to get your money’s worth with this version from the Criterion Collection.

 

David Bowie

Movie Rating: 7/10
Blu-ray Rating: 8/10

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Aaron ConnBlu Ray Review: Moonage Daydream (2022)- Criterion Collection