askygoneonfire: David Bowie in profile with a hat (Bowie Man Who)
[personal profile] askygoneonfire
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
 - Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts

The older I get, the more I like The Man Who Fell to Earth. I don't know if it you have to chip away at your subconscious with it, or if as I see more of life, I can make stronger connections with Thomas Jerome Newton and his feelings of dislocation, alienation, paranoia, fear, apathy...

The Man Who Fell to Earth is beautifully shot; breathtakingly so at times.  From the grey barren landscape that seems to split apart as Bowie drops his hood and we get the first flash of his ginger hair in the first scene, to the long landscapes around the shack Bowie makes his home after World Enterprises' assets are seized; there is something epic in this film which is never fully realised and I don't believe I've ever seen mentioned in reviews.

Continuity errors are rife.  The most significant of them caused by Bowie reducing the quantity of cocaine he was taking and, as a consequence, eating more than red peppers and milk which causes his weight to appear to fluctuate from scene to scene. The prosthetics for the 'alien' scenes (and aging up Mary Lou - a most hated practice in any film) are all terrible and have dated horribly but the emotions behind the story carry the film through.

I really love the scene which culminated in him turning on a wall of tvs, and progresses from delighted to overwhelmed by the cacophony of images (and I deliberately misuse cacophony) screaming "get out of my mind!".  There's so much there, in that short scene, to do with media culture and being overwhelmed and seduced, and trapped all at once and it's every bit as relevant now as it ever was.

Music makes a film.  Bowie wrote a score for the film and charged the studio a small amount to use it, which they refused to pay, so Bowie refused to let them use it and later released it/most of it/some form of it as Low.  Whenever I listen to that album I try and mentally fit it in the pieces to the film.  Sometimes I think the real score for The Man Who Fell to Earth misses the mark; it's certainly an interesting 'what if'.

Overall though? As I get older I really respect this film.  Bowie's performance is genuinely exceptional.  If you haven't, you should take the 2 and a bit hours to watch it - just don't focus on Candy Clarke's cloying performance too much.

Further reading:
Bits of trivia and links a plenty on Wikipedia
More trivia and an overview of how, when and what here.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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