While other films directed by Nicolas Roeg have attained similar cult status (including Walkabout
and Don't Look Now
), none has been as hotly debated as this languid but oddly fascinating adaptation of the science fiction novel by Walter Tevis. In The Man Who Fell to Earth
, David Bowie plays the alien of the title, who arrives on Earth with hopes of finding a way to save his own planet from turning into an arid wasteland. He funds this effort by capitalising on several highly lucrative inventions, and in so doing becomes the powerful leader of an international corporate conglomerate. But his success has negative consequences as well--his contact with Earth has a disintegrating effect that sends him into a tailspin of disorientation and metaphysical despair. The sexual attention of a cheerful young woman (Candy Clark) doesn't do much to change his outlook, and his introduction to liquor proves even more devastating, until, finally, it looks as though his visit to Earth may be a permanent one. The Man Who Fell to Earth
is definitely not for every taste--it's a highly contemplative, primarily visual experience that Roeg directs as an abstract treatise on (among other things) the alienating effects of an over-commercialised society. Stimulating and hypnotic or frightfully dull, depending on your receptivity to its loosely knit ideas, it's at least in part about not belonging, about being disconnected from the world--about being a stranger in a strange land when there's really no place like home. --Jeff Shannon
From director Nicolas Roeg, The Man Who Fell To Earth
is a science-fiction cult classic starring David Bowie. Crash landing on Earth from his dying planet, an alien humanoid traveling by the name Thomas Jerome Newton uses his superior intelligence to build a vast business empire. As he takes on, and beats, every US corporation, people can only guess his true purpose: to save his dying world from agonizing death by drought. Newton’s ageless fall from grace, as he becomes prey to lust, alcohol, business rivals and the US Government makes The Man Who Fell To Earth
not only a bitingly caustic indictment of the modern world but also a poignant commentary on the loneliness of an outsider.