Dedicated to Niara Isley
Adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel by Paul Meyersberg to screen play must have been a daunting task, nearly as much as deriving the vision of directing it, the talented Nicolas Roeg acquired. With the astounding luck of casting the amazingly versatile David Bowie as Mr. Newton, The Man Who Fell to Earth possesses every promise to be both the cult classic of both the genre of the avant garde and that of science fiction. In truth it has no equal; oddly enough even though it has not received in all these 32 years its full due. But then it was no small feat just to muster the support to produce it at the very time of its conception. Primarily, if the truth be told, because promoters had no basis for which to compare it. And its storyline?…well that just gets better as time goes on, the true sign of really successful science fiction, discerning it from fantasy.
We actually do live in a world where technology is controlled to suit status quo. Where patents are often suppressed, just as the inventors that offer what challenges auto-making, energy source…even the diamond industry with changes that threaten the grip of cartels on specific areas of industry. Addressing this, as well as the many diverse complexities such an alien as Mr. Newton might undergo (and be forced to undergo) just to function on earth, much less to conduct personal relationships, is this film’s sterling success. It sets the mark so well in doing so, that on its standard, no other movie made in America might truly qualify today as science fiction, and not fantasy.
Behind the original, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for instance is a form of alien aggression. Every single so-called science fiction film made in America before and since has had and sustained the alien threat thesis in some way. Someone always has to be in violent conflict with someone else while those aliens friendly to earth are merely working through agenda out of aggression towards other aliens. The conflict has to be there or the script is not produced.
Stop and think. How long do you think actual “conflicts” last between those with starship technology? How long, if at such a low level of cultural development, would such a civilization survive possessing such technology without destroying itself? (You might get your answer soon enough if some physicists are correct about super-colliders.)
As Mister Newton replies to his scientist friend, Dr. Bryce (Rip Torn) “we even had visitors”. It’s high time the veil of denial was lifted, we have had and are having ours. Probably from “all over” and maybe “under”. Spend some time on the History Channel. Dig out from mindset. Every day there are more and more UFO sightings. Some trend into “flaps”. NOT ONCE HAVE AVERT ACTS OF VIOLENCE been performed by the vehicles witnessed.
And one other thing, of all the wonders Mr. Newton offers, none exceed the wonder of so many of Tesla. Good science fiction is a carefully constructed travel along the path of inevitability. And The Man Who Fell to Earth is a unique model for that.
The lovely Candy Clark wonderfully satisfies the role of Mary-Lou and supporting cast are uniform in more than adequately fulfilling theirs. Direction is first rate throughout and the music score is colorful. A timeless quality is enhanced by scene shifts and superb camera work.
Most of all you don’t need no stinking absurd conflicts between alien species that should know better to find this film engrossing. “Creative” nudity, “creative” love scenes, otherwise fare for most anyone. The best of the best. Remaking this would only decline it. (Evidently the same can be said for, The Day The Earth Stood Still.) Pardon, but this reviewer just had to get that in.