This remains David Bowie
's most effective acting role, as an alien sent to Earth in order to find a source of water for his dying world. He builds a business empire based on a revolutionary self-developing camera
, but is slowly consumed by drink, television and human society until, at the mid-point of the film, his empire collapses and his mission is forgotten. Thereafter, the authorities
attempt to analyse his alien nature but, in the process, they render him human. Bummer.
Directed by Nicholas Roeg, 'The Man who Fell to Earth' is based on a novel by Water Tevis. It's perhaps the ultimate post-'2001', pre-'Star Wars' science fiction film, being enigmatic, melancholic, extremely stylish, and thought-provoking. If you aren't in the mood it can also be extremely boring, as the plot is skeletal. Nonetheless, it never fails to look fascinating, and is a neat reminder that, in the 1970s, Hollywood could still throw out something completely unique and bizarre.
The film also stars Rip Torn (naked!) and Candy Clark.
The cover photograph of David Bowie's Low was taken whilst he was in costume for this film. Low was originally to have been the film's soundtrack, and would have been fitting, but was vetoed for reasons that are lost in the mists of time.