David Bowie Is

Film, Documentaries
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David Bowie Is

A look back at the Victoria and Albert Museum's 2013 exhibit dedicated to the rock legend

When the V&A hosted the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition in 2013, the curators couldn’t have known the life-spanning retrospective would also serve as Bowie’s epitaph. This documentary – originally screened partially live in cinemas to mark the close of the show – now returns to screens in tribute to Britain’s greatest pop star. It’s a fascinating if stylistically unadventurous overview of his life.

The structure is basic: V&A curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh take us on a tour around the exhibition, showing off everything from baby pics to the actual crystal ball Bowie fiddled with in the movie ‘Labyrinth’ (sadly, his famous codpiece doesn’t seem to be on display). All of this is interspersed with snippets of (pretty badly chosen) performance footage, fan vox pops and cursory talking-head interviews with notable Bowie admirers and collaborators including Jarvis Cocker and Jeremy Deller.

There are fascinating nuggets, but nothing you couldn’t pick up from a decent biography. If you need a fix of big-screen Bowie, wait for the reissue later this year of 1976’s ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Release date: Friday October 31 2014
Duration: 99 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hamish Hamilton, Katy Mullan

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tastemakerTastemaker

I am a HUGE Bowie fan. I saw the David Bowie Is exhibit at the V&A in April 2012 and then again in November in Toronto, and both times I was so overwhelmed I started to cry. (Seriously.) The film did the same. I watched it at the Waterloo Vaults, which was the perfect environment for a doc like this one. It is a fascinating look into the exhibition and all of the bits and pieces that needed to come together to make it happen, and is a must-see for anyone who missed the exhibit. I am hoping that the exhibit continues to tour and that I can experience it again, but until then, I'm happy with the film and the memories it gives me.