Documentary following five years of Bowie's early career, from the late 1960s through to the on-stage death of Ziggy Stardust in 1973 and features never seen before archive interviews with some of Bowie's earliest collaborators.
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David Bowie's death in January 2016 felt like a major milestone. He was one of the most influential music artists of his generation, but Bowie before the creation of Ziggy Stardust, the alter ego that made him famous, remains largely unknown. This film follows five years of his early career, from the late 1960s through to the on-stage death of Ziggy Stardust in 1973. It shows how many of the ideas that originated during these early years and features never seen before archive interviews with some of Bowie's earliest collaborators.Written by
Revealing documentary of David Bowie's early years
"David Bowie Finding Fame" (2019 release from the UK; 95 min.) is a documentary about Bowie's early years. As the movie opens, we are given a quick glimpse at his 1973 Ziggy Stardust persona, at which time Bowie finally found the mega-success he pursued in vain for so many years. We then go back to "1965" when Bowie, then aged 18, admits he is "writing not very good songs". He ends up joining a band called The Third Level, one of many bands he joins in those years. Along the way we also get some insights on his upbringing in the Bromley neighborhood on the outskirts of London, with his cold and distant parents who don't care much for hugging or affection... At this point we are 15 min. into the documentary.
Couple of comments: this documentary is directed by Francis Whately, who in 2017 released an excellent documentary called "David Bowie: The Last 5 Years", providing great insight in Bowie's last years, most of which out of the public eye (and with shock releases of 2 great albums). This documentary can be seen as the flip side of that, giving us insights as to Bowie's first (slightly more than 5) years. As a pretty big Bowie fan myself, I knew he toiled in obscurity for years before breaking big, but I must admit I really didn't know much of the details. This documentary fills in all the blanks in one fell swoop. The film makers seem to go out of their way to track down band mates of Bowie's earliest bands (The Third Level, The Buzz, The Riot Squad, Feathers, etc.) and the verdict is pretty much unanimous: Bowie is determined and ambitious and loves himself more than anything or anyone else. "He wasn't lost, he just wasn't found yet", is how one of those band mates puts it. (Did you know that Bowie's very first album, "David Bowie", was released on June 1, 1967? Yes, the very day that the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" was released! "Bowie didn't stand a chance", comments a former band mate.) The documentary is chock-full with rare and never before seen archive footage.
"David Bowie Finding Fame" premiered earlier this year on the BBC to great acclaim, and finally received its US premiere on Showtime, where I saw it. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and revealing in ways I did not expect. Whether you are a casual (?) or die-hard Bowie fan, or simply interested in rock music history, I'd readily suggest you check this out, and draw your own conclusion.
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