Saturday, 28 April 2007

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, made in 1976, is a science fiction movie quite unlike any other. It’s really a film about being an outsider, being unable to connect with others, and being completely alienated from society. It’s about an alien who comes to Earth with hopes of being able to do something to help his own drought-stricken planet, who makes a lot of money using his knowledge of alien technology, and then loses his way. David Bowie’s performance as the alien, Thomas Jerome Newton, is extraordinary, unsettling and vulnerable. Candy Clark is exceptional as Marylou, a waitress with whom he forms an intense but bizarre relationship. The cinematography (although it’s a British film it was shot in New Mexico) is stunning. The most outstanding thing about the movie is the editing – very jumpy, constantly cross-cutting not only between different places but also different times. You don’t expect a straightforward linear narrative in a Nic Roeg film, and you don’t get one here. The sex scene between Newton and Marylou with the gun is one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a movie. The Region 4 DVD version is the uncut one. I’m told that the earlier US release was so badly cut that the movie became incomprehensible.

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