THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
Starring David Bowie, Buck Henry, Candy Clark, Rip Torn, Bernie Casey, and Alan Alda as The Beav.
A humanoid alien (Bowie) arrives on Earth to get water for his dying planet. Using his knowledge of superior technology, he starts a corporation to amass the funds that will be necessary to build a spaceship for such an endeavor. Along the way, he is introduced to the all-too human vices of sex and booze…not to mention the ruthless and greedy nature of Earth corporations.
This is a weird trip. It's surreal and compelling, but I really shouldn’t have expected otherwise from David Bowie (that's him in the pic above, of course...showing the template for Nick Rhodes.) I mean, I love the Thin White Duke and his music but the man just isn’t known for doing anything in a straightforward or “normal” sense. And I am just fine with that. In fact, I wonder just how much influence Bowie had over the film as a whole. Many of the strange, moody, intercuts had his distinct style and sensibility to them. An almost David Lynch quality and that is something I most certainly welcome. As an actor, Bowie has always been a fair talent. In this role, however, he seems able to draw upon his expressed need to be "something more than human" as well as a fascination with all things alien. This allows him to portray a character who is isolated and detached.
Another great find in this film was Candy Clark’s performance as Bowie’s love interest, a young lady who is literally “Loving the Alien.” She is needy, codependent, and pitiable, but you still end up feeling for her. No matter what Bowie does, she still needs and wants him. The scene with the two of the standing on the edge of the dock at their lake house is especially eerie. I remember Clark from George Lucas’ American Graffiti. Her character here seems almost an extension of her role from that film, only given more depth and a great deal more troubled psychology. Modern day, ADD-afflicted “sci-fi” fans may find the depictions of the alien homeworld to be “cheesy.” Not much I can do about that other than challenge you to hold the same opinion when things go from bad to worse on that world. Meeker minds might be likewise troubled by the high amounts of sex in the film. Again, not much more I can do about that. It’s Bowie, remember?
I recommend this film for at least one viewing. Will I watch it again or perhaps own it? I’m not certain. It’s definitely a film that I will continue to think about and ruminate over. Any picture that can do that, no matter how disturbing is a sign of high quality in my opinion.
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