The ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition was the fastest selling in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s history, featuring a remarkable collection of artefacts from the David Bowie Archive. First released in 2013, this film takes the audience on a fascinating journey through the exhibition with special guests and expert insights, revealing the creativity and evolution of Bowie’s ideas.
The film will screen in Vue cinemas across the UK on Thursday 14 July, so this review is brief – we've only just been able to see it.
The film is more nostalgic and emotive now with Bowie's passing, those of us who grew up with his music definitely feel the void. But why would this film be of interest to today's youth audience?
Well, the film shows Bowie's techniques and thought processes (interpreting current affairs with 'Space Oddity' when NASA published a photo of the earth taken from the Apollo 8. The Earth was thought to have been green but the colour image showed that 'Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do') inspired and taught by William Burroughs and Brian Eno. It shows collaborations with a range of designers from Kansai Yamamoto to McQueen. It shows handwritten lyrics (which Jarvis Cocker compared to a 14-year-old girl) with all the notes and mistakes, which makes for a wonderful fantasy, singing along to them in your head whilst reading the text!
The film itself uses the structure of the exhibition rather than following along Bowie's timeline. It feels like a presentation at times, with guests adding their own personal memories from a stage in the V&A, anecdotes and intellectual observations shared. There is plenty from Bowie's own archive, photos of him at only a few months to his own sketches, storyboards, and props.
The worry I had before watching the film is best described by saying 'When you disect the thing that you love you kill it'. But I don't think you should let this worry you. I found that being informed has given me a greater appreciation for the artist.
So my recommendation is, if it's on near you, go! If only for the ending featuring a very emotional performance of 'We Could Be Heros' at Maddison Square Gardens in 2001 – a concert to thank the public services of NY for their 9/11 dedication.
The film is on release on July 14th for one day only. See link below for your nearest cinema.
Director – Hamish Hamilton
Producer – Katy Mullan
Producer for the V&A – Clare Gough
Lighting Designer – Gurdip Mahal
Editors – Michael Green/Justin Norris