The Man Who Fell to Earth Movie Review

Subscribe David Bowie
Sorry folks, Labyrinth was not David Bowie's best movie. It's arguably this, The Man Who Fell to Earth, a rambling and haunting science fiction movie unlike any you've ever seen. (Except perhaps 2001.)

Director Nicolas Roeg doesn't exactly clue us in to what's going on through the entire running of the film -- and even the ending has some ambiguity to it -- so the following synopsis is more of a rough guideline based on the acclaimed novel and personal conjecture. Bowie plays Thomas Newton, the assumed name of an alien who has landed on earth in the hopes of finding a way either to save his home planet, which has become a desert wasteland, or to figure out a way to get the rest of the homeland's survivors to earth. His plan is simple: Use his advanced technology to start a company that will instantly dominate most industries, and use the proceeds to further these ends.

Unfortunately, while Newton has amazing success in business, he's less apt at the chore of living on earth. Society and climate are one thing; the temptations of women and liquor are something else. But most of all, Newton finds himself unprepared to deal with the realities of American business, full of backstabbing competitors and domineering government agents. The film was made in 1976, but its message about the cutthroat realities of industry is even more relevant today.

As Newton, Bowie couldn't be more perfect. He looks alien enough as it is. With shocking red hair and paste-white skin, the effect is complete. (Never mind when he plucks out his eyes to reveal yellow slits beneath the lids.) Candy Clark plays Newton's girlfriend/wife, a simple country girl and heavy drinker who ends up first comforting then ultimately corrupting Newton. It's some of her best work, as well. Supporting players Rip Torn, Buck Henry, and others elevate rote supporting characters to memorable parts.

Roeg develops an almost careless, whimsical style here that recalls Peter Weir more than Roeg's other work (Walkabout, Castaway). The effect is disorienting -- extremely so -- but it effectively puts you in the shoes of Newton, right where you ought to be for a film like this. We don't know exactly what's going on, but neither does the alien. He's a stranger in a strange land, at first hopeful he has all the answers, eventually realizing he lost everything before he ever arrived.

The new Criterion disc includes a commentary track plus a second disc of extras (interviews and the like), plus the original, paperback book from which the film was adapted.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Subscribe David Bowie


The Man Who Fell to Earth Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1976


More David Bowie

Hipster Disney: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Mixtape Set for Cassette Release

Disney has announced it will release Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape on cassette. Awesome Mix Vol 1 will be the studio's first cassette release in...

David Bowie Can Do Whatever He Wants, So He Released A 7-Minute Jazz Track

Here’s a Sunday treat for you: David Bowie has a new song out. Now this is Bowie we’re talking out, so get ready for some...

Time To Magic Dance Again? Is ‘Labyrinth’ Really Getting A Sequel?

The news that there could be a sequel to 80’s cult classic Labyrinth has hit the internet hard. It’s been years since we've read so...

New David Bowie Album On Its Way Soon, Says Producer Tony Visconti

Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s longtime producer has revealed the legendary singer will release an album of new material ‘soon’, following on from the success of...


David Bowie Set To Release Greatest Hits Package With New Track

Legendary British rock icon David Bowie has announced the release of some more new material alongside a new greatest hits package.David Bowie will release a...

Susan Sarandon Details Relationship with 'Idol' David Bowie

Susan Sarandon, the Hollywood actress best known for Thelma and Louise, has detailed her relationship with David Bowie. Sarandon said the pair got together when...

David Bowie Fan? Then We Have Some Good News

David Bowie has promised that more new music is on the way, following his surprise comeback in 2013. A statement from the musician was read...

From Kanye to Kurt: Musicians Who Started Out With Ordinary Jobs

Everybody’s got to earn a living somehow and when you're an aspiring rock star you might end up having to take a few bad jobs...