Upon release, Nichoals Roeg’s feature directing debut, “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” immediately became a cult classic, without even being well received by critics, or finding a commercial appeal.
Up until then, Roeg was known as the distinguished lenser and second-unit director of movies such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451,” which he shot.
The story of an alien on an elaborate rescue mission provides the launching pad for Nicolas Roeg’s visual tour de force.
The movie is at once a formally adventurous examination of alienation in contemporary life, and a daring exploration of science fiction as an art form.
Legendary performer David Bowie, who possesses a strong, charismatic screen presence, completely embodies the title role, an alien who takes the name of Thomas Jerome Newton , who suddenly shows up at the office of a patient attorney, Oliver Fransworth (Buck Henry).
We learn that Newton has arrived on Earth on an important mission, searching for water for his drought-stricken planet.
Candy Clark, Buck Henry, and Rip Torn turn in pitch-perfect supporting performances.
The film was always stronger visually than thematically or intellectually, and some of its haunting images will linger in your memory for a long time.
The film’s hallucinatory vision was obscured in the American theatrical release, which deleted nearly twenty minutes of crucial scenes and details.
Beware: There are at least three versions of the film, which was not commercially successfully and thus was cut at various times for different lengths, ranging from 117 all the way to 140 minutes; the first time I saw the picture, it had a running time of 125 minutes.
This DVD presents Roeg’s full, uncut version, in an exclusive new director-approved high-definition widescreen transfer.
The two-disc edition also includes an exclusive audio commentary by Roeg, Bowie, and Henry; Performance, a compilation of new video interviews with Clark and Torn; a new interview with screenwriter Paul Mayersberg; audio interviews with the costume and production designers; multiple stills galleries; a gallery of posters from Roeg’s films; trailers and TV spots; and more.