The Man Who Fell To Earth

Director: Nicholas Roeg

1976

What a strange movie but then when David Bowie is your lead you kind of expect it to be slightly kooky and weird.

I was dissatisfied with The Man Who Fell To Earth. It was way too long for a start and had the loosest story line possible which doesn’t even get a proper resolution at the end. The film just abruptly stops. I also have quite a pronounced issue with art house cinema. Art house films are pretentious and have an overblown sense of their own importance, thinking they are addressing the big questions of the universe when in reality what they present is a disjointed compendium of images that have no real connection. Unfortunately The Man Who Fell To Earth only strengthened my opinion on art house films.

“Told in cross-edits with unexplained chronological and location jumps, this ultrasophisticated take on American culture, love, and homesickness was also a major technical achievement.” (Karen Krizanovich, 601, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) There is a lengthy portion of the film given over to disparate images strung together for no definitive reason that I can distinguish. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to grasp the deeper meaning Roeg is trying to infuse, what is essentially a science fiction film, with. “The later success of Memento (2000) and Mulholland Dr. (2001), two films that similarly displace time and place, show that The Man Who Fell To Earth was not only ahead of its time but also ahead of its audience.” (601) There is no discernible passage of time really despite the narrative spanning a number of years.

The Man Who Fell To Earth David BowieDavid Bowie is striking as Thomas Newton, the titular Man Who Fell To Earth, with his vibrant orange hair and famously mismatched eyes. And he is the perfect choice to play an extraterrestrial being as he has always had an other worldly presence. He even looks kind of natural and at ease in his natural alien state – some very clever use of makeup. The remainder of the cast didn’t really leave much of an impression on me I have to say. All of my attention was focused on Bowie.

All in all this was not one of the more enjoyable viewing experiences I have had while attempting to undertake the mammoth task of working my way through 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. It’s not a film I envision myself watching again.

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