sat 14/12/2019

DVD: The Man Who Fell to Earth | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Man Who Fell to Earth

DVD: The Man Who Fell to Earth

Blu-ray edition of Nic Roeg's Bowie farrago stays firmly in 1976

David Bowie: 'Frankenstein’s monster with unassailable global pop cred'

It was bonkers then and it’s bonkers now. Nic Roeg’s space-power-environment fantasy was really only about David Bowie in the lead. In one respect, he didn’t disappoint. Caught between mid-1970s creative cul-de-sac and bodily burn-out, he resembled here a ghost pumped full of some kind of bio-fuel, a Frankenstein’s monster with unassailable global pop cred: the most decadent, beautiful Bowie that ever was.

As an alien crashlanding on earth from outer space (many of Bowie's early songs obsessed on the theme), he was perfect. With centre-parted orange hair, fragile and emaciated - like a figurine almost, made not of porcelain but dough - he also looks staggeringly young, a mannequin handed screen riches the pop version of which the already humongously wealthy musician had hoovered up by the gazillion in those out-of-control, pre-punk years. Blu-ray brings the post-Ziggy Stardust DB back to uncomfortably sensuous life (the colour throughout is also wonderful); just as uncomfortably, it reminds us how bad an actor he was. And insanely, not a note of his music was used.

Based on a 1963 sci-fi novel by Walter Tevis, the film blunders around like 10 treatments trying to find a scene. Alien Thomas Jerome Newton is on a quest to fund the rehydration of his planet and so becomes head of World Enterprises, ruling the corporate (earthly) world with teenage nonchalance. He’s befriended by a scientist, a hilariously over-sexed Rip Torn, and bewitches hotel cleaner Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), but decides TV and alcohol are far more fun.

So far, so preposterous. Bowie mumbles his way through it all. The story goes nowhere for two and a half self-indulgent hours. The great scene in which Mary-Lou wets herself after Newton/Bowie has turned himself into a lizard-eyed, green meanie remains unimprovable. But not even Blu-ray can save the film's overall incoherence or really rescue it from its time.

A scene in which Mary-Lou wets herself after Bowie has turned himself into a green meanie remains unimprovable

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