David Bowie’s Bisexuality Front and Center in Euphoric New Documentary “Moonage Daydream”

David Bowie in Brett Morgan’s new documentary Moonage Daydream. Image courtesy of Neon.

It has been exciting to see so many music documentaries embracing their weird side in recent years. Films like Edgar Wright’s The Sparks Brothers and Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground have taken on luminary bands by not just telling the musicians’ stories, but reflecting their unique styles back in the filmmaking itself. This trend continues in Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream, a wild and fantastical new documentary about singer-songwriter David Bowie.

To take on a project capturing the story of such a dynamic musician like Bowie is no small feat. But Morgen doesn’t approach the film as a traditional documentary featuring sit-down interviews with coworkers, friends, and fans. Instead, Bowie’s story is told non-linearly through his own words, featuring several interviews that the musician did over the span of his long career. That mixed with an abundance of visually stunning sequences featuring Bowie’s discography, concert footage, archival material, and a healthy amount of psychedelic animation. 

David Bowie in “Moonage Daydream.” Photo courtesy of Neon.

While the film’s bold stylistic and narrative approach is reason alone to check out the documentary, I found myself appreciating the documentary for its treatment of Bowie’s sexuality and gender expression. Bowie’s discussion of his bisexuality and rejection of gender norms in a television interview is included in one of the first moments of the film. While other documentaries about musicians popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s tend to gloss over queerness, Moonage Daydream uplifts the importance of the singer’s sexuality as one of the first openly bisexual, mainstream artists.

Admittedly, the documentary has some flaws. Most glaringly being that it runs long with a two-hour and fourteen-minute runtime, and you definitely feel it. Several moments in the film seem like natural stopping points but then the film chooses to keep going, peeling back another layer of Bowie’s story. This may be great for super fans, but I found it became taxing around the hour-thirty mark. 

Moonage Daydream is an experimental, odd, acid trip told in a truly spectacular fashion. It finds success in capturing Bowie’s weirdness and sexuality while telling a compelling story that doesn’t lean on famous interviewees and genre conventions.

Moonage Daydream is currently in IMAX theaters.

Hansen Bursic (he/him) is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and LGBTQ+ activist. His work for QBurgh has won a Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. Bursic's film work has screened all over the world from Frameline, the world's oldest and most prestigious LGBTQ+ film festival, to Reel Q here in Pittsburgh. His writing has been seen in online publications such as CinéSPEAK and QueerPGH. To learn more about Bursic's work, visit his InstagramFacebookTwitter, or his website.