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December 10, 2012 10:20 PM   Subscribe

The Man who Fell to Earth was Nicholas Roeg's Sci-fi classic featuring a fragile cocaine addicted David Bowie, between his Thin White Duke days and his Berlin trilogy, as a homesick alien falling into despair. Years later Duncan Jones - AKA Zowie Bowie, subject of a sentimental song on Hunky Dory - would make a Sci-Fi film of his own with similar themes of isolation.
posted by Artw (28 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I LOVED Nicholas Roeg's early films: Walkabout , Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth - yeah!
posted by growabrain at 10:35 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I first saw the Man who Fell to Earth over 20 years ago. It was given to me by a high-school renegade English teacher who also gave me copies of Soylent Green and Night of the Living Dead.

I think I was a bit too young for the film -- it just didn't resonate with me at the time. But the thing is, I've never forgotten it. As I've gotten older and wiser and perhaps more melancholy and more resigned in certain ways, the film has kept coming back to me. All these years. I saw it only once, but there are certain images and moods that are just burned into my psyche. I must confess that I also read the book (by Walter Tevis) it was based on a few years later, and that probably added gravity to my memory of the film.

Moon drew me in immediately, and I've also never quite forgotten it either. It doesn't have the same the gravity for me, but, yeah, that sense of isolation and desperation related to being in/from space. This time, though, it's the human who's in an alien environment, much like the Space Oddity song.

Weird. This father and son producing haunting and compelling popular art about space-age isolation and very real contemporary existential crises. Not sure what to make of it.
posted by treepour at 11:49 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Once called Zowie Bowie, Duncan Jones – David Bowie’s only son

Okay, totally learned something new today.

Worth noting (?) The Man Who Fell to Earth is based on a bummer of a novel by Walter Tevis, who also wrote the novels that were adapted into the films The Hustler and The Color of Money.
posted by nanojath at 12:04 AM on December 11, 2012


The Duck Who Fell To Earth
posted by dunkadunc at 12:14 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea that song from HD was about Zowie. Of course, I've tended to avoid that era of Bowie.
I've never seen The Man Who Fell... it has been on my list forever, so it's interesting to see the thematical similarities to Moon.

I know Mr Jones (Jr) tried to keep his own identity as much as possible.

I'm one of those people who whom Moon and Source Code should hit every button - slow, brooding, simplistic '70s style SF... And Moon especially was wonderfully shot.

And yet they leave me hollow - Moon because I picked the twist early, and Source Code because I already saw Seven Days. And I keep waiting for his movies because I believe we'll synch up eventually The Fleming biopic looks promising because his life was damned interesting as it was.

And every career has a few Laughing Gnomes in it.
posted by Mezentian at 12:50 AM on December 11, 2012


Moon is a very good film. If you haven't seen it, give it a shot.
posted by Decani at 12:55 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This old Metafilter post, about "Cracked Actor", from five years ago, is still relevant. If you go about 5 and half minutes into Part I, you can see Bowie sitting in a limousine, complaining about a fly in his milk. According to this link, Bowie was cast as the billionaire humanoid Thomas Jerome Newton in Roeg’s film after the director saw him in the 1974 tour documentary Cracked Actor. The singer’s ethereal backseat catatonics, not to mention his emaciated androgyny, are all used to great effect in Roeg’s film. (As are the singer’s own limousine and its burly chauffeur).

That's how weird Bowie was in the early Seventies. They not only cast him as an alien, they also cast the car (and driver) he rode in on.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:52 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't think any of us who weren't old enough in the '70s (especially in the UK) can understand the phenomenal impact of Bowie back in the day. I saw a docco last year (the name of which escapes me) and it helped me put so many bits together.
Without Bowie we might not have had Bauhaus (et all), Nine Inch Nails and Lady Gaga.
posted by Mezentian at 2:39 AM on December 11, 2012


Without Bowie we might not have had Bauhaus (et all), Nine Inch Nails and Lady Gaga.

...but on the up-side, we got Bowie.
posted by pompomtom at 3:31 AM on December 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


Nicolas Roeg is an underrated genius. In addition to his more famous/respected movies, Track 29, The Witches, Eureka, and Insignificance are all genuinely weird, very well-made movies of the sort that most people don't make any more.

I once read a funny story about him from Alex Cox. Back when Cox was a fresh-faced film school graduate, he tried to arrange a free screening of his own student film Edge City. The theater said that they'd only do a free screening if he could get celebrities to come. Not knowing any celebrities, Cox just started poring over the phone book and doing some cold calls.

As luck would have it, Nic Roeg was in the phone book, and much to Cox's surprise and delight, he took Cox up on the offer of a free movie. Roeg came to the "premiere" of Cox's Edge City, thereby giving a healthy amount of encouragement to the budding filmmaker.

also his name is spelled "nicolas" not "nicholas"
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


From what I know about Bowie's LA years, he really is lucky to have gotten out with his life. Look up the story of the haunted swimming pool. Much smarter to go to Berlin!
posted by thelonius at 3:59 AM on December 11, 2012


I love Bowie, but this movie.... Maybe I was too young, but it seemed very simplistic in its assumptions afair. (I saw this in the 80's as a young teen).
posted by marienbad at 5:07 AM on December 11, 2012


...but on the up-side, we got Bowie.

We can't be friends anymore.
We would have been kings, like dolphins could swim.
But you have to bring your pokerface.
You scary monster, you super creep.

Okay, this got away from me...
posted by Mezentian at 6:11 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


We always called this movie "The Man The Earth Fell On."
posted by Floydd at 6:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Telegraph article said he was doing 10 oz. of cocaine a day at the time of the filming, no idea if this is a lot but a couple of the comments were disbelieving. Equates to about a third of an oz. to put it in American measurement terms, which doesn't really seem like a lot, but what do I know, never having indulged in the habit myself.
posted by e1c at 6:52 AM on December 11, 2012


I had no idea there was a pilot for a television show based on the novel.
posted by juiceCake at 7:37 AM on December 11, 2012


By his accounts he was living solely on cocaine, milk and red peppers.
posted by Artw at 7:41 AM on December 11, 2012


I think you mean 10 grams
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:52 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


At 10oz Bowie buys a bazooka and goes totally Scarface.
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought I originally saw this on mefi, but I'm unable to find it, so.. I present a 20 minute review / recap / synopsis of the film set to Bowie songs.
posted by borkencode at 8:39 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sam Rockwell, Duncan Jones and Clint Mansell.
Love Moon so much.

Also, 70s Bowie was an alien. They swapped him back in time for the 80s.
posted by fullerine at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2012


I just went to add Moon to my Amazon Wishlist and it isn't available in the U.S in a region 1 regular old DVD format. Weird. Loved that movie.
posted by Robin Kestrel at 10:04 AM on December 11, 2012


Moon because I picked the twist early,

Well, it's revealed fairly early. It's not a Shyamalan movie. The thing that particularly impressed me about Moon was they way that the kind of questions you might ask about the situation were actually asked by the movie (often by Rockwell's character himself), and answered more often than not. None of this 'let's leave it to the audience's imagination because we can't think of a reason that stands up to vague scrutiny for more than three seconds' cop-out bollox (cf Prometheus).
posted by Sparx at 11:43 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


How come no one has mentioned that sex scene? It ruined/changed my life for ever.

The Man who Fell to Earth is on my canon of great and unforgettable films. Maybe because it was my first Nicolas Roeg pic. They are all amazing, but after a while, I became jaded.

I haven't seen Moon, and this thread leaves me wondering wether I should.
posted by mumimor at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I first read The Man Who Fell to Earth at 12 or so when I found it on my mom's bookshelf. This copy. Absolutely haunting, beautiful SF. Really integral to my growth as a sci-fi fan. Moon came along just around the time I started getting back into it as an adult. Though of course I knew about Duncan's parentage, I never really made the thematic connection. Interesting to think about. Both so character-driven.

I haven't seen Moon, and this thread leaves me wondering wether I should.


Yes. Yes you should
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:41 PM on December 11, 2012


Wait.... The Man Who Fell to Earth (TV program)
Starring Lewis Smith
James Laurenson
Bruce McGill
Beverly D'Angelo
Wil Wheaton
Robert Picardo


Obviously this is actually an artifact from another universe.
A New Star Trek-less 'verse.

I must watch this.
posted by Mezentian at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2012


I haven't seen Moon, and this thread leaves me wondering wether I should.

Yes. Yes you should


Seconded.
posted by homunculus at 6:27 PM on December 11, 2012


Obviously this is actually an artifact from another universe.
A New Star Trek-less 'verse.

I must watch this.


You can rent the whole series here.
posted by homunculus at 6:30 PM on December 11, 2012


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