Nicolas Roegs follow up to his successfull thriller 'Don't look now', was the Science fiction themed 'The Man who fell to earth'. The role of the main chracter, that of the alien,Thomas Jerome Newton, finally found itself fullfilled by the then most alien of rock stars David Bowie.
Roeg had previously in mind PeterO'Toole and Micheal Crichton as possibles for the role of the icey alien. However, Roeg, who had used Mick Jagger successfully in his earlier film 'Perfomance' was attracted to Bowie through his sense of mime and movement on stage and also through Alan Yentob's BBC Documentary -'Cracked Actor' which was aired earlier that year. After Roeg met with Bowie in New York he felt he had found his alien and Bowie, who had been interested in acting since the sixtes and had had some minor film roles, accepted the part.
This film is wonderfully shot and is a visual joy especially in its wide screen format. From claustraphobic interiors to wide expanding landscapes and not least the images of the wonderfully pale and angullar Bowie, who later used some of the images as album covers. A superior and unobvious sci-fi film it deals with themes familiar to the work of Roeg(And to some extent Bowie)- alienation,paranioa,memory and wierd sex! The story line concerns the alien visitor, in human form, who has visited earth in search of resources to save his dying planet. This some-what naive and cold character recieves the affections of a lonely woman,the 'down home'Mary Lou.(Well played by Candy Clark). Who in one memorable scene carries Newton from an elevator, where he has collapsed vomiting, to his hotel bedroom. Once the alien begins to trust Mary Lou he begins to reveal his true identity which culminates in one shocking scene which was edited out when the film was first shown in the U.S. This is where Newton/Bowie reveals his true hairless, almond eyed physiognomy.(ala:Arnie in Terminator 2)From then on a feeling of entraptment ensues as the alien becomes corrupted and his benign cause esqued.
Roegs Film enchants, puzzles and provokes but one can't help thinking allegorically of a being alienated and brainwashed by society and unable to save 'his world' or that of those around him. If not Roeg's best film then definitely Bowie's. One of the best films of the seventies, it is still relevant today and stands up to repeated viewing. Favourite scene: Our alien seated in front of banks of television screens using the remote control, in information overload, before destroying the screens shouts despairingly "Get out of my mind... all of you!"