It stages dramatised tableaux around the exhibition space, interviews Bowie scholars, collaborators and fans, and showcases fascinating archival material.
Bowie emerges as an aesthete and a rebel, a figure of dissident, unrepentant gorgeousness. (Oddly, the movie doesn’t comment on the different-coloured eyes that were part of his exotic charm.)
He was a master and inspirer of many genres, including the lost art form of the 12-inch album cover, and his videos from the early 70s still stand up – although he was always a better actor in the videos than in his feature films. Watching this movie is reminder of how Bowie’s compelling Space Oddity intuited the real fear – now forgotten – that the Apollo 11 crew would conquer the moon but not return.
As this is a movie which concerns itself with the evanescent forms of style, I would have liked to see it say something about Bowie’s very brief, unhappy flirtation with fascist posturing – a flip, ironic provocation, not helped by drug issues. But even the greatest figures can do foolish things. As a child, David Bowie passed his 11-plus but chose to go to Bromley technical college, where he neglected his schoolwork and nourished his brilliance and self-belief. Does careerist intern Britain still produce Bowies?
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