The Man Who Fell to Earth

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“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is a science fiction film of 1976, directed by Nicolas Roeg and based on the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. The protagonist of the film is Thomas Jerome Newton, a alien who arrives on Earth with the aim of saving his species, which is dying due to a serious resource crisis on his home planet.

Newton (played by David Bowie) tries to get the money needed to build a spaceship that will allow him to bring water to Earth, thus saving his people. To do so, he sets up a company that produces and sells advanced space technology patents, but he soon comes across the evil and corruption of human society.

The film explores themes such as isolation, loneliness and dehumanization, showing how Newton’s experience on Earth changed him in profound and irrevocable ways. The film was critically acclaimed for its evocative cinematography, score by Bowie, and performances by actors such as Rip Torn and Candy Clark.

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is considered a classic of science fiction cinema and has inspired many subsequent works, including the comic book series “The Incal” by Alejandro Jodorowski from Moebius.

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Plot

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The plot of “The Man Who Fell to Earthfollows the arrival of Thomas Jerome Newton (played by David Bowie), an alien from the planet Anthea, on Earth. Newton arrives on Earth with the goal of saving his people from destruction, caused by a severe resource crisis on the his home planet.

To deal with the situation, Newton tries to get the money needed to build a spaceship capable of carrying water to Earth, thus saving his people. To do this, he sets up an enterprise that produces and sells advanced space technology patents.

During his stay on Earth, Newton meets Mary-Lou (played by Candy Clark), a young woman who becomes his lover, and professor Nathan Bryce (played by Rip Torn), who helps him protect his company from corruption and by the greed of businessmen.

But, despite his efforts, Newton meets the hostility and greed of human society, which seeks to exploit his technology for military and commercial purposes. Furthermore, the loneliness and isolation he feels on Earth leads him to become increasingly detached and dehumanized, until he loses contact with his people and his own alien nature.

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Movie Characters

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Here are the main characters of the film “The Man Who Fell to Earth”:

Thomas Jerome Newton (played by David Bowie): An alien from the planet Anthea who arrives on Earth with the aim of saving his people from destruction. Newton is an enigmatic and isolated character, who tries to adapt to human society, but eventually loses his identity and his alien nature.

Mary-Lou (played by Candy Clark): A young woman who becomes Newton’s lover and helps him in his mission to Earth. Mary-Lou is a simple and genuine character, who bonds with Newton despite his strangeness and alien nature.

Nathan Bryce (played by Rip Torn): A college professor who becomes an ally of Newton and helps him protect his firm from the corruption and greed of businessmen. Bryce is an ambiguous and complex character, who tries to understand Newton’s alien nature and to exploit his technology for personal gain.

Oliver Farnsworth (played by Buck Henry): A businessman who seeks to exploit Newton’s technology for commercial and military purposes. Farnsworth is a cynical and ruthless character, representing the greed and corruption of human society.

Trevor (played by Bernie Casey): A black man who works for Farnsworth’s company and who befriends Newton. Trevor is a loyal and honest character who tries to help Newton despite difficulties and opposition from his superiors.

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Production

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“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is a 1976 film, directed by Nicolas Roeg, based on the 1963 Walter Tevis novel of the same name. The film was produced by the British Lion Film Corporation and Cinema 5 Distributing.

David Bowie, who plays alien protagonist Thomas Jerome Newton, also contributed to the film’s soundtrack, along with Paul Buckmaster. The soundtrack was highly praised and contributed to the film’s success.

The film was shot primarily in New Mexico, in various locations including Albuquerque, White Sands and the town of Roswell, famous for the alleged sighting of a UFO in 1947. The cinematography of the film, handled by Anthony B. Richmond, was much appreciated for the use of lights and colors that create a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere.

The film’s budget was approximately $1.5 million, and it was initially released in England in 1976, with later releases worldwide. The film achieved critical acclaim, but was less commercially successful, however becoming a cult film over time.

Distribution and Reception

“The Man Who Fell to Earthwas first released in the UK in May 1976, with a US release in September of the same year. The film achieved critical acclaim, with many critics praising its originality and innovative blend of science fiction, drama and social satire.

Despite positive reviews, the film was not commercially successful, possibly due to its non-linear structure and fragmented storytelling. Later, however, the film became a cult movie, mainly thanks to the performance of David Bowie and his soundtrack.

In general, the film was praised for its dreamlike and surreal atmosphere, evocative cinematography, avant-garde soundtrack and the intense and moving acting of David Bowie. The film was also praised for its ability to address important themes such as isolation, loneliness, alienation, corruption and the greed for power.

During the years, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” has been re-evaluated by critics and considered a classic of science fiction and experimental cinema. The film has also been the subject of numerous remakes and references in other films, TV series and works of art.

Style

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” was directed by Nicolas Roeg, who is known for his experimental and unconventional style. The film is notable for its fragmented and non-linear narrative structure, which breaks the plot into a series of unordered time sequences. This narrative structure , together with the suggestive cinematography and the avant-garde soundtrack, creates a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere that permeates the whole film.

The film is also characterized by the use of strong images and symbols, such as the recurring image of the shoe, which represents Newton’s alienation and isolation. The use of color and light is also very important, with the use of cold and bluish tones to represent the alienation and isolation of the protagonist, and warm and golden tones to represent hope and vitality.

The soundtrack of the film, curated by David Bowie and Paul Buckmaster, is also very important to the style of the film. The soundtrack features a combination of acoustic instruments and synthesizers, creating an avant-garde and futuristic sound. Bowie’s song “Space Oddity” is used in the film as Newton’s main theme, and becomes a symbol of his longing to go home.

All in all, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” is one of the most innovative and experimental films of the 70s, which influenced many other subsequent films. Its unique style and its combination of science fiction, drama and social satire make it a classic of experimental cinema and science fiction.

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Director

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Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018) was an English director, screenwriter and cinematographer known for his innovative and experimental style. He began his film career as an assistant to photography and director, working on such films as David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and Lean’s ‘Dr. He then worked as cinematographer on several films, including Francois Truffaut’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and Joseph Losey’s ‘Free Range Male’.

Roeg made his directorial debut in 1970 with the film ‘Performance’ which he co-directed with Donald Cammell. The film, which starred Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in the lead role, was highly controversial due to its violence and sexual themes. However, it had a great impact on popular culture and influenced many other filmmakers.

After “Performance,” Roeg directed several other innovative and experimental films, including “Winter on Fire” (1973), “My Body for a Poker” (1974) and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (1976), which became one of his best known and most popular films. Roeg continued to direct films until the late 1990s, including “Castaway” (1986), “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and the lover” (1989) and “Heart of Darkness” (1993).

Nicolas Roeg was a director who always tried to break with conventions and explore new cinematic territories. His innovative and experimental style has influenced many other filmmakers and had a significant impact on popular culture.

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