The death of David Bowie earlier this year brought to an end one of the most iconic and celebrated musical careers of the last century. A master of re-invention and evolution, Bowie was always on the vanguard, and a champion, of progress. Whilst his acting career wasn’t anywhere near as successful, he always brought a certain charisma to each part. In Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, he delivers his best performance, bringing a unique sense of otherness to the role.
Thomas Jerome Newton’s (Bowie) ship crash-lands on earth. He comes from a distant planet which is suffering from a catastrophic drought. His mission is to transport water back. After patenting many advanced technologies, Mr Newton creates World Enterprise Corporation and sets about building a ship. He meets a chambermaid Mary-Lou (Candy Clark) who corrupts him with Earth’s vices, and Bryce (Rip Torn) who becomes his confident and eventual downfall.
The Man Who Fell to Earth is an otherworldly and offbeat sci-fi. Roeg, who worked with Mick Jagger on Performance, brings the same kind of vibe on this production. Bowie is perfect for the central role. He exudes an alien presence. Whilst the narrative itself at times is obtuse, there’s an oddly compelling edge and pacing. The Man Who Fell to Earth remains a persuasive oddity of the genre and an era.
• Watching the Alien (documnetary)
• Nic Roeg Interview
• Tony Richmond Interview
• Paul Mayersberg Interview
• Candy Clark Interview
• Walter Tevis interview, by Don Swain
The Man Who Fell to Earth (40th Anniversary Edition) is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Studiocanal on Monday.