After a mysterious space craft crashes to Earth, David Bowie emerges from the wreckage to sell a ring for twenty dollars in a dusty Southwestern town, then almost immediately hires a high-priced, thick-spectacled patent attorney (played by Buck Henry) to register ten world-changing patents.
“Dazzling! Time has done nothing to reduce its cool, confounding strangeness.” – Anthony Lane, New Yorker
Orange-haired, pale-skinned, minimally-expressioned Bowie (perfectly cast as an alien in his first starring role) desperately yearns to return himself and loads of precious Earth water back to his parched and dying planet – but will the authorities let him? – with sleazy college professor Rip Torn providing technical help, and kooky chambermaid Candy Clark providing distractions via overdoses of very terrestrial sex, booze, church and television. Nicolas Roeg’s sci-fi cult classic/cautionary morality tale is an eye-popping assault of fragmented, non-linear narrative style, hypnotically-striking visuals, groovy ‘70s soundtrack by John Phillips of The Mamas and Papas (along with period “needle drops”), with a groundbreaking, no-comment depiction of a gay couple, and multiple eyebrow-raising sexual romps – including one punctuated by gunshots. Unfortunately, the film’s hallucinatory vision was obscured in the 1976 American theatrical release, which deleted nearly twenty minutes of crucial scenes and details. This beautiful anniversary restoration of The Man Who Fell to Earth (created for the film’s 35th anniversary in 2011), contains Roeg’s full uncut version of the film, bringing this sci-fi masterpiece back to its original glory as “the most intellectually provocative genre film of the ‘70s.” (Time Out New York). (Dir. by Nicolas Roeg, 1976, UK, 140 mins., Rated R)