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By Tom Clift
November 03, 2014
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By Tom Clift
November 03, 2014
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Melbourne musos are in for a treat next year. A massive new exhibition entirely dedicated to Ziggy Stardust himself is hitting ACMI in the middle of the year. Originally curated for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is takes visitors inside the life, career and intricate creative process of one of the most significant pop stars of the past 40 years. With hundreds of show props, rare photographs and characteristically elaborate costumes, it's a Bowie bacchanalia that looks guaranteed to be a big hit with fans.

Of course, June 2015 is still quite a while away, and so in order to whet peoples' appetites, select cinemas are offering a sneak peak at the exhibition via an exclusive documentary walkthrough. Shot on the final evening of the exhibition's original showing in the UK, the 'movie' gives viewers a glimpse of some of the highlights, interwoven with interviews with various artists who have either worked with or been inspired by the big man himself.

In other words, the film is basically one big, 100-minute promotional video, specifically designed to make the exhibition look amazing and convince people to buy a ticket. And in fairness, to that end, it's generally pretty successful. The exhibition does look great. On the other hand, if you're going to charge people $15 for a movie ticket, you really need to be doing more than just spruiking what's to come. Paying to be told about an opportunity to pay for something else is hardly a worthwhile investment.

It wouldn't be so bad if the doco had a little bit more of that patented Bowie energy. But while the V&A curators, who act as our tour guides, are obviously knowledgeable, they're also far too dry and academic in their presentation to inspire any real level enthusiasm. Strategically placed vox pops with exhibition visitors do a better job in this regard, with many fans speaking about the personal impact the singer and his music has had on them. But there's also a distinct and, at times, rather cringe-worthy vibe of hero worship to these interviews, which ultimately just drives home the film's status as a tacky piece of marketing.

Maybe just wait 'til June for the real thing.

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