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Bowie and mental illness

david bowie in Showtimes For Moonage Daydream

David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust. Both names and personas are affiliated with an extraordinary auteur, who changed the artistry of musicianship in the mid twentieth century through his music, showmanship and unique outlook on the modern world. 

During his colourful life and posthumously, the omnipresent figure of Bowie has become a catalyst a shining beacon and example to notable musicians; like Billie Eilish, Boy George and Harry Styles; that it is socially acceptable to flout your expressions of freedom and creativity through your platform as an artist.

Like so many prolific musicians before him, the truth about Bowie’s life has become like a tarnished tale in which some individuals have struggled to determine the truth from reality.

Showtimes For Moonage Daydream’ a new music documentary directed by Brett Morgan is narrated by David Bowie and charts the rise, fall and demise of this fabled musician.

 The documentary is a cinematic visual treat for the eye, as it offers spectators a glimpse into the multi-layered life of Bowie in which Vogue remarked that it is “the best film about any artist.”

The cinematography and visual images featured in the documentary, portray David Bowie’s positive life as being as colourful as Ziggy Stardust’s lightning bolt. This constructive narrative is far from the truth as Bowie was a complex man who faced many tragedies.

Throughout his life, Bowie lived in a dark shadow. He had an unbalanced childhood because “he was born into a family touched by mental illness.” Evidence to support this was that Bowie claimed this issue had impacted several generations of his family and remarked that “three of his aunts had some type of illness.” 

Possibly, the result of David Bowie’s unstereotypical upbring may have resulted in his dependent drug addiction. In 1975, The National Press criticised Bowie’s lifestyle choices in using drugs as a negative factor, in which they addressed that Bowie’s “physical deterioration was sad to behold.”

The events and escapades that influenced Bowie’s artistry and life mirror the life of a heroic protagonist from Greek mythology with hubris. For instance, the brave warrior Achilies who was glorified by all, he was the greatest warrior in all of Greece, but the honour brought by his status led to his downfall and ultimately death. 

Therefore, this begs the question: are modern day musicians living lives that are not too similar to that of a tragic mythological hero?

Story by Aimee Hudson

Showtimes For Moonage Daydream is on nationwide release at cinemas now across the UK.

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