The Man Who Fell to Earth

"Excellent"

The Man Who Fell to Earth Review


Sorry folks, Labyrinth was not David Bowie's best movie. It's arguably this, The Man Who Fell to Earth, a rambling and haunting science fiction movie unlike any you've ever seen. (Except perhaps 2001.)

Director Nicolas Roeg doesn't exactly clue us in to what's going on through the entire running of the film -- and even the ending has some ambiguity to it -- so the following synopsis is more of a rough guideline based on the acclaimed novel and personal conjecture. Bowie plays Thomas Newton, the assumed name of an alien who has landed on earth in the hopes of finding a way either to save his home planet, which has become a desert wasteland, or to figure out a way to get the rest of the homeland's survivors to earth. His plan is simple: Use his advanced technology to start a company that will instantly dominate most industries, and use the proceeds to further these ends.

Unfortunately, while Newton has amazing success in business, he's less apt at the chore of living on earth. Society and climate are one thing; the temptations of women and liquor are something else. But most of all, Newton finds himself unprepared to deal with the realities of American business, full of backstabbing competitors and domineering government agents. The film was made in 1976, but its message about the cutthroat realities of industry is even more relevant today.

As Newton, Bowie couldn't be more perfect. He looks alien enough as it is. With shocking red hair and paste-white skin, the effect is complete. (Never mind when he plucks out his eyes to reveal yellow slits beneath the lids.) Candy Clark plays Newton's girlfriend/wife, a simple country girl and heavy drinker who ends up first comforting then ultimately corrupting Newton. It's some of her best work, as well. Supporting players Rip Torn, Buck Henry, and others elevate rote supporting characters to memorable parts.

Roeg develops an almost careless, whimsical style here that recalls Peter Weir more than Roeg's other work (Walkabout, Castaway). The effect is disorienting -- extremely so -- but it effectively puts you in the shoes of Newton, right where you ought to be for a film like this. We don't know exactly what's going on, but neither does the alien. He's a stranger in a strange land, at first hopeful he has all the answers, eventually realizing he lost everything before he ever arrived.

The new Criterion disc includes a commentary track plus a second disc of extras (interviews and the like), plus the original, paperback book from which the film was adapted.



The Man Who Fell to Earth

Facts and Figures

Run time: 139 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 26th May 1976

Box Office USA: $83.5k

Distributed by: Rialto Pictures

Production compaines: British Lion Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Thomas Jerome Newton, as Nathan Bryce, as Mary-Lou, Tony Mascia as Arthur, as Oliver Farnsworth, as Peters, Rick Riccardo as Trevor, Linda Hutton as Elaine, Hilary Holland as Jill, Jackson D. Kane as Professor Canutti

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.