19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Still loving the alien'
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...
Published on 9 Oct 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Acting...Shame About The Film
I love Almost anything Sci-Fi and Bowie is brilliant, I think the film was pretty bad to be honest, I enjoyed reading about it more than watching it.
The idea isn't a new one by far (even in the 70's), It began good with mediocre effects but started to lag pretty early as more detail and information was needed like,
what star system he was from? ( i...
Published 6 months ago by Peter Ormesher
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Still loving the alien',
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This review is from: The Man Who Fell To Earth [VHS] (VHS Tape)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!"
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving the Alien...,
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Subtitles,
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Criterion Release,
David Bowie is the title character in his only feature role. He is Thomas Newton and he only has to adjust his appearance a little bit to look somewhat human. That is if you think David Bowie even looks human because I don't, but I do realize he is...I think? Anyway, Thomas Newton rises to great wealth due to his society's advances in technology and his ability to create enterprises based on his patenting compilations of ideas that his world produced, nonexistent on Earth. He is trying of course to fund the shipment of water back to his home world. Thomas soon meets Mary-Lou (played by Candy Clark). Mary-Lou is your typical girl who introduces him to many of Earth's temptations. Thomas is soon inhibited by his aberrant consumption of alcohol and his fixation with television. It all has a very negative effect on him. Mary-Lou and his friend Nathan (Rip Torn) both eventually discover separately that Thomas is indeed an alien. After being revealed and after the government imprisons him, Thomas's inevitable downfall becomes apparent. We see him gradually accept failure in his task and grow increasingly negative in his disposition. He has truly fallen to Earth I suppose.
The big strengths in this film are primarily its cinematography. I like Nicholas Roeg's other films a lot so I'm aware that this is to be expected. I like the idea of a science fiction art film and overall I can really appreciate the fact that The Man Who Fell to Earth is not as in your face as most science fiction is today and was even back then in the mid 70s. However, this is almost too surreal and sedated for me. It was convincing but there were some long and boring stretches and I couldn't figure out why exactly, beyond the photography alone. It just seemed a lot longer than the story warranted. Also, I think I can draw the line between gratuitous nudity and appropriate nudity and I'm grown up enough to accept both. The Man Who Fell to Earth has much gratuitous nudity, but that was a sign of the times I guess so it's partially forgivable. There is more emotion and drive behind Newton in the Tevis novel and it seemed a bit more controlled as an existential piece of work. It doesn't matter though because with the Criterion release you are getting both and if you like to collect interesting and unique films that will have you talking then this set is worth owning. The film itself would probably get three stars from me but the Criterion release justifies four. It really is an exceptional package. The extras are outstanding and should help answer most questions you will have. Provoking movies like this one, whether they be good or bad, deserve the royal treatment so kudos to Criterion once again.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's supposed to be disjointed,
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent transfer.,
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Man Who Fell to Earth [Blu-ray]  [Region A] [US Import] (Blu-ray)This is a Region-A disc so won't play on UK Blu-Ray players but if, like me, you have the means then it's well worth playing. The transfer is excellent and preserves the quality of the original film stock. This is the extended edit of the film and therefore the most complete version (debate open). My only minor complaint is the poor packaging that Criterion insist on using. I'd prefer a standard Blu-Ray box to a cardboard sleeve with an insert please!
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Sold The World,
The Man Who Fell To Earth gets a lot of mileage from this duality but the auteur of this work is Nic Roeg, and the film sees him continuing an ongoing examination of identity and perception that began when the thin white duke was still a one-hit-wonder milking his 15 minutes of fame by doing Stylophone ads. As with Performance, Walkabout and Don't Look Now, a trauma forces Roeg's protagonist to undergo a transformation - though the twist is that they're not aware of it. In Performance a reclusive rock star and a gangster on the run exchange roles; in Walkabout a schoolgirl reverts to nature and enters womanhood after her father's suicide; in Don't Look Now a grieving father finds his world becoming increasingly surreal, unaware that he has developed psychic powers as a result of his loss. And in The Man Who Fell To Earth an alien sets himself as up as a businessman, patents various revolutionary electronic devices and amasses a personal fortune so he can build a rocket and bring water back to his dying homeworld. Only he stays too long and unwittingly goes native, his plans thwarted by both our hostility and, crucially, his acquisition of our weaknesses and vices (booze, sex, paranoia, TV, fast food and plain old loneliness).
Naturally it's a movie of two parts: the first as we watch Newton's rise and try to work out who he is and what he's up to; the second when we get the twist that he's an alien and watch his subsequent decline. As such the title The Man Who Fell To Earth is probably the worst spoiler since James Cameron decided to call his shipboard romance Titanic. But of course, it's not that kind of fall. Bowie is a higher being, a fallen angel. His tragedy is that he becomes human, that's all. No big deal to us - we're born that way - but by his standards something of a come down. This is an adult version of ET if you like, though scratch deeper and you'll find a re-telling of the story of Christ. Both are visionaries, both try to improve the quality of our earthly lot (albeit Newton through his electronic inventions), both incur the jealousy of the authorities, and both are betrayed and publicly destroyed. But while Christ died and rose again, Newton arguably suffers a worse fate - condemned to remain earthbound, lose his otherworldly qualities, become human and be haunted by what he sees as his own failure. Ironically, at his nadir he becomes the very thing 99% of the population of this planet aspire to be: a pop star.
Hence the shrewd casting of Bowie. Contrary to myth, Bowie isn't a bad actor. He has screen craft, intonation and the requisite degree of naturalism. But what he doesn't really do is project. Like Jagger and Madonna, he's great on a broad canvass (i.e. rock videos, concerts) but when he tries to underplay he comes across as surprisingly slight and hesitant. This isn't a great quality to have if you're playing a vampire (The Hunger) or Pontius Pilate (The Last Temptation Of Christ), but it is spot on if you're playing a fully grown adult taking his first steps on planet Earth (it helps that Bowie was thin as paper and pale as milk - so fragile that slender Candy Clark is able to carry him in her arms). In fact, for a lot of the film Bowie actually seems scared of his environment, and Roeg uses this well. This is, after all, an examination of perception as well as identity; Bowie is the visitor but Earth, seen through his eyes, is the alien world and we are the real aliens, both in appearance (his lawyer (Buck Henry) wears the most outlandish bottle-lensed spectacles - Roeg's way of suggesting that to an alien this strange glass and metal contraption over his eyes would be quite distracting) and beliefs (the screams of livestock penned up in a passing truck seem as disturbing to him as human screams are to us - an indication that from his point of view four-legged creatures are no higher or lower on the totem pole than us hairless bipeds). It's a device Roeg used in Don't Look Now, making that most over-exposed of cinematic locations, Venice, seem unfamiliar and bizarre, and again Roeg applies his abstract approach to montage, here to suggest Newton's non-linear perception of time as well as counter pointing his experiences with those of a jaded college professor (Rip Torn) whose life he inadvertently revitalises. Indeed, the power of both films lies not in the story per sé but Roeg's unique interpretation of it. This is visual cinema, not visual cinema in the sense of Lucas or Disney, stripping plot and character down to easily grasped images, but visual in the sense of a director using the camera to impose his own narrative voice over and above that of the actors or the script. Not an approach for the faint of talent. And back in 1976, critics saw this as Roeg's hubris. In hindsight it was his genius.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roeg's Double Bluff is a Win! Win!,
This review is from: The Man Who Fell To Earth [VHS] (VHS Tape)It was a teasing double bluff by Nicholas Roeg, the British film director, to cast David Bowie in the title role of his mind-bending masterpiece "The Man Who Fell To Earth".
Having created his androgynous Ziggy Stardust persona during the early 1970's, Bowie on the face of it was a perfect choice for the part. But, was there a danger that Bowie had stamped on us a too indelible image of himself as Glam Rock fashion icon? Would we, the cinema-visiting public, be able to accept him and see him properly in the different guise of Mr Newton the self-contained, bespectacled, business-suited alien visitor from space?
Roeg had gambled and won a few years earlier, when he put the pop star Mick Jagger into the co-lead role of "Performance" (1970). Jagger was convincing in his then unaccustomed role of a movie actor - and like Bowie he portrayed an ambiguous and confused character. "Performance" was the film that put Roeg on the map. It was followed by "Walkabout" (1971), "Don't Look Now" (1973) and then "The Man Who Fell To Earth" (1976). All of these startling and vividly colourful films have become legends of post-war British cinema. The films share the same ingredients and qualities: they are breathtaking, disjointed, distracting, disturbing, hallucinating, haunting, provocative, refractive and spellbinding.
Bowie has no cutlass, parrot or pigtails, but as he wanders through Middle America he is the epicene, emaciated, marmalade-haired space-pirate. What is the purpose of his mission on Earth? His laconic mumbling betrays few secrets, but occasional clues are provided. We learn that his own planet will soon be doomed, because of drought. He states that he is interested in energy. But the plot is largely baffling, and hard to follow. (One critic has called all of Roeg's plots "infuriating").
In all four of his above-mentioned films, and particularly in "The Man Who Fell To Earth", Roeg juxtaposes time and place. Within the numerous, often bewildering flashbacks and flashforwards in time, we see dreamy glimpses of Bowie, his wife and two children shrouded in a chrysalis-like gauze, hugging and walking on their arid and flat planet. The soundtrack hisses silently, like gas escaping from the twin-canisters that are strapped to their backs. These little interludes exemplify a Roeg trademark: the discordant chapters and scenes in his films are paradoxically interspersed with serene, picturesque moments where Roeg allows the camera to linger on a visually-stunning image (tall buildings, lakes, landscapes, mountains, wildlife, sky).
My instinct tells me that a painstaking study and understanding of the plot-puzzle wouldn't be an essential task, to secure enjoyment of "The Man Who Fell To Earth". Better perhaps to allow the vivid images and impressions to sear into my brain, and to overlook the obscure, rambling and apparently inconsequential sequences of action and dialogue that elongate this strange, uneven film. Better too, I suggest, to enjoy the performances of the two main characters. It's an open question: does Candy Clark, the hotel maid and eventual consort of Mr Newton, steal the show from Bowie with her compelling portrayal of the booze-addicted, simple-minded Southern gal, Mary Lou? I suspect that she does.
The first time that I saw this film, I was entranced from the opening minute. But the first sequence that really blew my mind was Bowie stacking the multiple television sets in his hotel room, all tuned to different channels. In fact, there are two such sequences in the film. Another electrifying moment is when Clark jumps out of her skin, and so do we, when Bowie appears to unpeel his eye, in front of the bathroom mirror, and he then transmogrifies into his true, hitherto hidden body. But my candidate for perhaps the most arresting sequence of all in the film is Bowie and Clark's sex-romp to the blaring soundtrack remix of Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou". A shooting pistol and a banana serve as sex-symbols here, but the real shock-effect of this episode is its stark and saddening revelation that Bowie and Clark are going to end the story as hopeless alcoholics and losers. She has become a bloated, befuddled lush: and he has become a fading, failing Icarus.
This explosive sequence is immediately followed by a bizarre one in which Bowie and Clark, dressed in whites, calmly play table tennis in a room that seems to be a forest. This surreal scene seems to belong more in a Ken Russell movie: Roeg and Russell of course were contemporary enfant terribles of British cinema in the 'seventies. Their controversial, barrier-breaking movies were feted with praise or condemned from the pulpits. Russell, too, raided the pop world: Roger Daltrey played the lead in two of his films.
When Ziggy Stardust, glittering costume, orange-streaked hair, was at his zenith, I had to credit my wife Nancy for some gentle debunking of the Bowie myth. Nancy imagined him backstage, the audience's adulation ringing in his ears after another spectacular god-like performance. "Oh gawd, Angie, help me off with these bloody Space Boots, they don't half pinch my feet. I could die for a cup of tea, luv". Curiously, there are moments in "The Man Who Fell To Earth" when Mr Newton relaxes with Mary Lou, puts his feet up, lets down his inscrutable mask and becomes an ordinary bloke for a moment or two. It's yet another tantalising facet of this extraordinary, nervous, unforgettable movie.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A TRIUMPH FOR DAVID BOWIE...,
The film itself, though somewhat abstract, is terrific, as it is not just a science fiction film with a twist. It is a film that explores themes that are timeless: desolation, alienation (no pun intended), and loneliness. At times, these themes are palpable, due to David Bowie's wondrously androgynous performance which is heartbreakingly moving at times.
The plot is fairly simple. An alien, Davie Bowie, leaves his family on his dying and arid planet in search for water. He lands on earth and begins his project to send water to his devasted planet by amassing the wealth that he needs to do this. He patents numerous lucrative inventions which eventually find him at the head of a world wide conglomerate. He joins up with a kindly, though stupid and vapid woman who drinks gin like a fish, Candy Clark, with whom he begins a liaison of sorts. Yet, he is always lonely and melancholic, and like her, begins to spiral into an alcoholic haze, sometimes sidetracking him from his purpose here.
At some point, excruciatingly sad and lonely, longing for his family, he reveals himself to her for who he truly is, shedding his earthly appearance, only to be met with absolute horror and repugnance by her at the sight of him. She ultimately tries to understand him, but it is truly beyond her ken. He is infinitely sad at this and longs all the more for home.
On the threshhold of returning to his planet and loved ones, he is kidnapped by corporate raiders who take over his holdings, and it is here that the movie begins to disintergrate somewhat. Yet, it remains strangely hypnotic and compelling, and becomes a sort of "Lost Weekend" of betrayal, booze, and promises which will never be kept. A parable of wanting to belong, yet knowing that you truly never will. A story about wanting to go home, but knowing on some level that you truly can never go home again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very ambitious experiment,
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This review is from: The Man Who Fell To Earth (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)The Man Who Fell To Earth is a film that comes from the days when an ambitious film-maker had a lot more freedom to make whatever he wanted, and SF films were not just fairy tales draped in futuristic fashions. It's undoubtedly indulgent and you sometimes have to wonder how much the plot was fleshed out before they started filming, but it has its undeniably compelling moments and is a very interesting experiment of its time, recommended at least as a one-time watch to movie buffs. The Optimum blu-ray contains a lovely HD presentation of the film and is a very competent alternative to the OOP and thus overpriced Criterion BD. There are some interesting interviews from the cast and crew, although sadly no participation from David Bowie. This item was out of stock in between but thankfully came back and I snapped it up. If you like the film, I recommend you do so too.
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The Man Who Fell To Earth [DVD] by Nicolas Roeg (DVD - 2007)
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