Release Date (UK Blu Ray) – 4th April 2011
Certificate (UK) – 18
Country – USA
Runtime – 148 mins
Director – Nicolas Roeg
Starring – David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark and Buck Henry
To go into The Man Who Fell To Earth armed only in the knowledge that David Bowie is an alien and it’s from Nicolas Roeg is a rather dangerous thing to do. Having heard about it for years but not really finding a reason to invest time in the film, sitting down on a sunny afternoon to find out what exactly people talk about, I found myself rather nonplussed, almost annoyed, certainly quizzical for the 148 minute duration, and as the film’s credits ended, I just didn’t know what to do.
The Man Who Fell To Earth stars David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, a strange visitor who finds himself quickly a reclusive multi-millionaire, as items and inventions he has on him become huge assets to humanity, and he reaches ever closer to his goal of bringing water to his dying planet. Further aided by Rip Torn’s professor Bryce, a man focussed more on sex than science, Newton attempts to aide his planet, but soon humanity’s pitfalls sucker him in, sex, drugs, alcohol, money, and a hodgepodge of hedonism attracts him away from his singular goal as the alien becomes another human.
Unfortunately the film falls into a series of holes in which it becomes obsessed with the most painfully ugly sex scenes possible, the plot is too minimal for it’s painfully long duration, a lot of the ideas of globalisation and the corruption of mankind are done lightly without a sense of edge to them, some scenes just feel cheesy or completely out of place, and it just didn’t work for me. But once again, that’s just me, and fans of Roeg will probably thouroughly enjoy the film.
The Blu-Ray does a great job restoring the film in a theatrical representation, framed in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio it’s as good as the film will look, a few stray hairs on the frame, some scratches and dust in a few spots and some scenes were shot with focus softer than would be normal now, but a healthy dose of grain, colours that are clean and clear, detail is very strong and vibrant make for a great looking disk. The stereo LPCM mix is pretty fantastic; the voice is clean and clear with a well adjusted in a mix that can widely range from quiet to busy. As some scenes have a lot of news reporters talking, none are too evident in the mix, nor impossible to hear and the music never envelopes anything. It looks and sounds great.
A collection of extras, some from the DVD release and some especially for this new Blu-Ray, are on the disk. A bundle of interviews, first off with Nicolas Roeg, as he discusses the film’s origins, Bowie, studio interference, filmmaking as a whole to provide an interesting insight into the making of a very odd, offbeat film. Interviews with the film’s screenwriter Paul Mayersberg and the cinematographer Tony Richmond delve deeper in both the origins and Roeg’s shooting practices. Actress Candy Clark talks frankly about her relationship with Roeg, filming with Bowie, the make-up of her final segments and the film as a whole. An audio only segment from an interview with the source novel’s writer Walter Tevis from 1983 rounds out the interview segments as he talks about the film in relation to his book.
A making of documentary “Watching The Alien” goes further into the film’s production, a snapshot of a young Duncan Jones is among the many little nuggets of information as one of the film’s producers, Si Livinoff, speaks rather candidly about the film, Roeg and the seventies. Fascinating stuff all in all.
An excellent extras package and a fantastic looking and sounding remaster of a sci-fi allegory cult classic that fans will be enjoying for years to come. The Man Who Fell To Earth is most certainly a marmite movie, but if you love the film, this is the ultimate purchase for you.