The Man Who Fell To Earth is the third film in the Picturehouse’s Made in Britain season and testament to the Picturehouse it screened a glorious, digitally restored print, which beautifully showed off Roeg’s follow-up to his seminal horror film, Don’t Look Now.
Thomas Newton (David Bowie) is a humanoid alien, who arrives on earth with a splash. Newton has one intention and that’s to transport water back to his home planet, which is revealed to be a desert wasteland.
With a pocket full of gold rings, Newton goes about building an empire and it isn’t long until he’s running a huge technology company. But why? So he can build a massive spacecraft, transport a bucket load of H20 back home, and of course, snuggle up with his wife and kids, back on Uranus. However, Newton’s generally unprepared for life on earth and on his journey he meets Mary-Lou, who falls hopelessly in love with the space oddity, and thus begins Newton’s two other major affairs -booze and TV!
David Bowie was clearly an inspired piece of casting by Nic Roeg. While this isn’t Bowie’s finest performance, there’s certainly a great deal of synergy between Bowie’s star persona and his humanoid alien character. It is without doubt, the reason behind the musician’s casting. Bowie’s 1970s ‘otherness’, translates perfectly to the other worldliness of his Martian.
As is typical of the Roeg oeuvre, the director is keen to experiment -sometimes his ideas work and sometimes they don’t. Nic Roeg is (no doubt) the sort of director who would scoff at the idea of storyboarding, let alone storyboarding an entire film, but this is to his credit because his experimentalist vision is always present in the frame. And there’s always a certain mystery to his films, they quite typically do the unexpected, offering an unpredictability, which is largely absent from today’s independent scene.
Something else I have always admired about Roeg’s capacity as a filmmaker and that’s his sex scenes. Most sex scenes are fairly similar and typically revolve around the objectification of women. But there’s almost something sensual and even ‘real’ about Roeg’s, they’re often playful, passionate and feature lots of gentle touches. They are always something to behold and not just for titillation, which is the norm.
Roeg’s film looks better than ever with this new digital restoration, but some audience might be slightly bewildered by this science-fiction film’s lack of focus. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a damning indictment concerning the dangers of alcohol misuse, what with our alien friend imprisoned, complacent but never without a bottle -welcome to humanity!
The next film in the Made in Britain season at the Exeter’s Picturehouse, is Hobson’s Choice by David Lean, on Tuesday, June 26 and finally, Quatermass and The Pitt, on July 3.
[imdblt]The Man Who Fell To Earth[/imdblt]