The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) – So I have never actually seen a Nicholas Roeg film, except for The Witches and I last saw that over 15 years ago. He’s a director held in a fairly high regard; he has several films in the Criterion Collection (this one included). Now in the six years I worked DVD retail, I bought a whole fuckload of DVDs (and eventually Blu Rays). That includes two Nicholas Roeg films that I never got around to watching. As my viewing of Velvet Goldmine earlier this week put me in kind of a David Bowie mood, I figured I would pop in The Man Who Fell to Earth where Bowie (in his film debut) plays an alien looking to get water back to his dying family on his distant desert home world. Buck Henry plays the man who runs the corporation that Bowie sets up. Rip Torn plays a chemist who goes to work for him. Candy Clark plays a woman who falls in love with Bowie’s character. I’m going to keep this review short and say that for a majority of the film’s running time I was bored out of my mind. Now I am a fan of deliberate pacing but holy shit does this movie drag. Some of the cinematography was very well-composed. I definitely appreciated the casting of Bowie as an alien, which fits rather nicely with the iconography he built for himself back in the 1970s. The redeeming factors just weren’t enough for me to overcome the pacing issues. Maybe I heard the words “Bowie” and “alien” and was expecting something else… I don’t even know what. I can appreciate the whole messianic rise and fall arc of the character and all the artsy stuff that has earned this movie its “classic” status or whatever, but I just couldn’t get into it. Who knows? Maybe you can, but I’m sure not going to recommend it. The other Nicholas Roeg movie I own and have never watched is Don’t Look Now. I’ve heard lots of great things about it, but after this flick I think I’m going to wait a while before I give it a shot.

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