‘David Bowie: The Last Five Years’ to Premiere Tomorrow

‘David Bowie: The Last Five Years’ to Premiere Tomorrow

Director Francis Whately delves into his experience of creating his second documentary on the late rock icon.

Director Francis Whately delves into his experience of creating his second documentary on the late rock icon.

Photography: Mario Testino

Styling: Camilla Nickerson

Text: Alexandra Ilyashov

In David Bowie: The Last Five Years, debuting on HBO tomorrow, January 8, which would’ve been Bowie’s 71st birthday, director Francis Whately explores the sorely missed icon’s final half decade. Whately’s first film on the icon, Five Years, honed in on “how Bowie changed stylistically and musically throughout his career, but particularly in the chosen ‘five years,’ as a fragmented approach to what appears to be a fragmented career.”

Whately’s experiences working on the two documentaries about the inimitable star differed markedly, the director explains. In his second film delving into Bowie’s life, Whately aims to show “that while those changes were important, they were also in some ways superficial; what really underpinned Bowie’s career was a consistency of themes and approaches,” he says.

There were a number of meaningful experiences from working on both documentaries for Whately, who’s an avid Bowie fan himself. “Seeing Bowie behind the scenes on the ‘A Reality’ tour, goofing around with his band, was priceless. At the other end of the emotional scale, it was hugely moving to hear the raw stems for Lazarus played by [producer] Tony Visconti.” There’s a particularly poignant snippet of The Last Five Years that’s lingered with Whately: “For me, the standout moment [in the documentary] is a disembodied news report, that we play over shots of London, which simply says ‘David Bowie is dead and it’s a big deal.’ It was, and it is still is.”

As for Whately’s intended takeaway from The Last Five Years, “I hope people see Bowie as a dignified, soul-searching genius, with great hair.”

See photos from Bowie's cover spread from V18 below. 

Credits: CREDITS: MAKEUP MARK CARRASQUILLO (FOR AVEDA)  HAIR ALAIN PICHON (UNTITLED USING MODERN ORGANIC PRODUCTS)  PROP STYLIST JILL NICHOLIS (MAGNET NY)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS ADAM WHITEHEAD, SICCO DIEMER, ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI, SABINA SPALDI  STYLIST ASSISTANT AVENA GALLAGHER  LOCATION MILK STUDIOS

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