The 12 months is 1976 and David Bowie is the most well liked artist on the planet. In March he releases Station to Station, wowing critics together with his seemingly easy skill to meld soul music and krautrock. There’s nothing fairly like Bowie on this interval as he motion pictures between numerous pursuits in soul and rock whereas creating alien music that, within the phrases of critic Robert Chistagu, “appears like he is singing to us through satellite tv for pc.”
A couple of months later, he would additional cement that concept together with his starring position in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth.
Six years previous to The Man’s launch in 1969, 2001: A House Odysseyhad opened the door for existential science fiction. Films have been not simply imagining the long run, however they have been additionally taking a look at new methods of describing it.
Round this time, Roeg (who died this September at 90) was beginning to do the identical factor in England. His first film, Efficiency, presents clues as to what could be coming down the pipeline: a preferred musician (on this case, Mick Jagger) starring in a visually gorgeous and considerably complicated have a look at humanity with a lot of express intercourse and violence.
Two movies later, Roeg would look to The Man Who Fell To Earth, a 1963 novel by Walter Tevis, to mix his cinematic eye with the traits set by 2001.
Each movie and novel inform the unhappy story of Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien who has come to Earth to seek out reduction for his dying homeworld. Newton is a genius, in a position to shortly amass super wealth by means of patents on new applied sciences. His hope is to construct a spaceship and ship water again to his planet. Alongside the way in which, although, he turns into entangled within the lives of individuals on Earth, changing into forlorn and despondent.
Finally, the federal government is ready to discern his id and traps him in a lush lodge room, the place he turns into a despondent alcoholic. By the tip of the film he’s nonetheless wealthy and delightful, but completely alone.
One needn’t have a cinema research diploma to see the metaphors of fame that lie inside The Man Who Fell To Earth. As Newton, Bowie is ready to make everybody round him wealthy and comfortable together with his innovations — but he’s nonetheless depressing and finally alone. His works of genius are taken from him and nothing is given again.
One facet of the film that will get ignored by its trippy montages is how good it capabilities as a movie about enterprise. Buck Henry is nice because the patent lawyer whose life is completely modified when Newton asks him to go his firm, and Rip Torn is completely sleazy as the faculty professor who stops sleeping together with his college students to determine the key behind Newton’s success.
However the important thing to the film is Bowie. Newton is delicate — he can’t deal with being in a automotive going over 30 MPH, being in an elevator makes him nauseous. Bowie performs it with a simple innocence that’s slowly overtaken by his needs for alcohol and tv.
The film may be very a lot of its time, which signifies that it sometimes errors being gradual and ponderous with depth. But it surely’s an interesting try, with each director and star making an attempt to push a style and themselves ahead into components unknown.
The Man Who Fell to Earth is streaming now on Amazon Prime.