Filmmaker of Documentary Moonage Daydream Reveals David Bowie Taught Him to Live

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Photo: BBC

The director of a most recent praised film based on the words and music by David Bowie says that he was taught how to live by the singer after going through a heart attack in his late forties.

Brett Morgen, filmmaker of Moonage Daydream, a more than 2-hour film without narration yet packed with Bowie’s interviews and deliberation on art, said that his own life was “out of control” when he started venturing into making this movie in January 2017, less than a year after the British musician died. 

“One of the greatest legacies anyone can have is to continue to inspire when we’re no longer here, and David does exactly that,” Morgen said in an interview with BBC. 

“David Bowie changed my life. I first came to him as I became a teenager, and his impact was tremendous. Then, just as I started working on this film, I suffered a massive heart attack. I flatlined for three minutes and was in a coma.

“My life was out of control, and I was entirely work-obsessed. I put all my ego into my work, and I’m the father of three kids. When you have an experience like that, you think, what’s been the message of my life? Work hard and die in your 40s…” 

He further says, “I needed to learn how to live again, and that’s when David Bowie really came back into my life at the age of 47.” 

Morgen, who is also the creator of the 2015 movie Cobain: Montage of Heck, about the life and death of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, showed the new movie at this week’s Cannes Film Festival – and grooved on the red carpet to Bowie’s music. 

Moonage Daydream is the first-ever documentary authorized by David Bowie’s estate. First, it reveals the unseen clip of Bowie, counting concert footage from Earl’s Court, London, in 1978, where thrilled fans can be seen scurrying into the arena. Then, Bowie performs Heroes on stage. 

“We were the first people to be able to access that material, and that was a true revelation,” Morgen states, further saying that he scanned through nearly five million Bowie “assets” for the five years of creating the film. 

“My personal favorite moment in the process was finding material of the 1975 Soul tour [which] I didn’t know was in existence,” he continues. “But I want to be more than the sum of its parts of the footage.” 

The documentary features the singer’s artistic interests in sculpture, theater and film. It also focuses on his life as a dissenter during East German times who wanted to make himself “uncomfortable.”

“He just wanted to make the most out of every day and recognized that feeling comfortable is a falsehood,” Morgen spells out. “If it’s easy, why do it? So once Bowie mastered something, he moved on.”