The Man Who Fell to Earth (Made in Britain film season)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Made in Britain film season)
(Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Less of an exploration of David Bowie's titular alien, Roeg's often misunderstood sci-fi classic is a harsh, stylised condemnation of Earth's own far from welcoming people who ply the E.T. with our vices to capture his secrets. Incredible.
David Bowie, at his peak of rock stardom, took a career u-turn to take the title role of Nic Roeg's sci-fi drama, and contrary to his unfair critical standing as an actor, he nailed it.
Perfectly detached as the alien who fell to earth looking for water to save his family stranded on a distant planet, his gentle, mysterious performance complements Roeg's eclectic style to dazzling effect.
It's hard not to watch 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' intently – subtle it isn't. Despite the director's bold visual style, the film is actually a deep critique of a vice-filled earth and its shady people rather than an exploration of a dazzling new visitor, as Bowie's Thomas Jermone Newton sells his futuristic ideas to Buck Henry's sleazy businessman to fund his space program back home only to become a rich drunk, hooked on TV and sex, eventually detained away from public eyes and probed by us, fearful of what we don't understand.
Combining the human insight of source novelist Walter Tevis (who also penned 'The Hustler') and Roeg's inimitable eye (see also 'Don't Look Now' and 'Performance'), 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' is somewhat dated and overlong, but it's a fascinatingly warped view of our own almost primitive existence viewed through the eyes of an advanced race.
Unconventional and compelling, this is a true sci-fi masterpiece. Catch on the big screen if you can. If not, the restored Blu-ray is available.
This has been restored and re-released into UK cinemas for a limited engagement as part of Studio Canal's Made in Britain film season.
To find out more info and what other unique, forgotten British classics you can expect from the season check out our feature that contains a link to the showtimes and participating cinemas right HERE.
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