The Man Who Fell to Earth
Nicholas Roeg’s masterpiece remains one of the most distinctive science fiction films ever made and gave David Bowie his greatest screen role.
A spaceship crashes into a lake and from it emerges Bowie’s humanoid alien. He takes the name Thomas Jerome Newton and introduces innovations that change the world, which makes him one of its wealthiest individuals. But beneath his altruism lies a deeper desire – to find a way to return to his home and family with enough water to change his planet’s otherwise bleak future. However, forces on Earth are determined for him to remain.
Paul Mayersberg’s adaptation of Walter Trevis’ acclaimed 1963 novel taps into the impact of the 1960s counterculture within the wider landscape of 1970s USA. In its portrait of addiction – Thomas’ romance with Candy Clark’s Mary Lou fatefully introduces him to alcohol – Bowie brought his own life experience. While Roeg, at the height of his prodigious powers as a filmmaker, playfully edits together a patchwork narrative that slips seamlessly between past and present, Earth and Thomas’ home world.