The spine of the world lost a vertebra on January 2016, when David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust himself, passed away. He was many things: an iconoclast, a true artist, the pure-grade embodiment of music clenched in potent emotion and style.
The last five years of Bowie's remarkable life is documented in a forthcoming documentary called David Bowie: The Last Five Years, out Jan. 8 on HBO, which would have been his 71st birthday. A just-released trailer for the film teases, among many things, the making of Blackstar, Bowie's twenty-fifth and final studio album, which, upon release, became one of, if not the most critically acclaimed albums of that year.
Besides Blackstar, The Last Five Years focuses also on the making of the preceding album The Next Day, not to mention his musical Lazarus. In the trailer, friends and collaborators discuss Bowie's final years, especially the creative process he went through making art despite being diagnosed with cancer.
"I still don't know if he started making Blackstar before he knew he was ill, or after," the film's director told The Guardian in January, adding that people wanted Blackstar to stand as this sort of parting gift from Bowie, but it was supposed to be beyond that label.
"There is more ambiguity there than people want to acknowledge. I don't think he knew he was going to die."
Of course, it would be a cardinal sin to make a documentary about Bowie and not include tons of archival footage from his iconic early years, of which the trailer teases aplenty. In one sound bite, Bowie says of his artistry:
"Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in. And when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about at the right place to do something exciting."
It is impossible to begin fathoming the artistic imprint left by Bowie on many artists working today, much less how he changed and redefined music entirely. His music, like all music, isn't for everybody, but to deny or downplay the ripple effect it's had would be a gargantuan offense. Lady Gaga, Lorde, Joy Division, Kanye West, and tons more all credit Bowie as one of their biggest influences.
The Last Five Years is directed by Francis Whately, who also made 2013's David Bowie: Five Years, focusing on five of the artist's most important years. The title of the forthcoming documentary was taken from the opening song of the same name on 1972's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Watch the trailer below: