[IN THEATERS] The Man Who Fell To Earth

David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976). Courtesy BFI.
David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976). Courtesy BFI.
David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976). Courtesy BFI.

“Are you Lithuanian?” After a space craft seemingly crashes to Earth, David Bowie walks off to sell a ring for twenty bucks in a dusty Southwestern town, then almost immediately hires high-priced, thick-spectacled patent attorney (Graduate screenwriter Buck Henry) to register ten world-changing patents. Orange-haired, pale-faced, minimally expressioned Bowie (the pop legend obviously well-cast as an alien in his first starring role) desperately yearns to return himself and water to his parched planet — but will the authorities let him? — with coed-shtupping professor Rip Torn providing technical help, and chambermaid Candy Clark providing distractions via overdoses of very terrestrial booze, church, sex, and television (“Get out of my mind, all of you!”). Roeg’s science fiction cult classic/cautionary moral tale is an assault of fragmented, non-linear narrative style, typically striking visuals, echt 70s soundtrack by John Phillips of The Mamas and Papas (along with period “needle drops”), with a pathbreaking no-comment depiction of a gay couple and multiple eye-brow-raising sexual romps — including one punctuated by gunshots. All too often seen in washed-out copies, this new 35mm print of the uncut director’s version allows Roeg’s dazzling visuals (Pauline Kael called him “the most visually seductive of directors”) to be seen as they were meant to be. [site]