BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
The Man Who Fell to Earth is one of those movies so incredibly odd that it exists in a sacred sphere that is outside of time itself. It has, in fact, improved with age becoming more emotionally impactful as David Bowie, playing the part of the exotic alien who has come to earth in search of water for his home planet, learns the hard way about how immigrants are received in America by the U.S. Government.
Directed by Nicolas Roeg (Don't Look Now, Performance), this cult film is similar to the dreamy nature of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. We have unannounced leaps in time as intergalactic visitor Thomas Newton (which Bowie plays as gentle and as authentic as could ever be imagined) realizes his plan to rescue his family will take much longer than he originally thought. The images are startling. The path through the narrative is challenging. The film is a challenge, but what you receive is why it's name lives on.
We have a mind-warping soundtrack that features a bizarre round-up of sounds from John Phillips (of the Mamas & the Papas) and Stomu Yamash’ta. We even have an unrestrained look at sex thanks to the many girls that chemistry professor Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn) beds as he perfects the role of disgruntled employee. All of this wrapped inside a movie about one alien’s prolonged effort to save his planet from a drought.
The film begins with a crash landing. We then see a skinny figure struggling to walk down the side of a rocky hill as he approaches a small town. It is Thomas and he is only minutes He gets money rather quickly by selling his things and quickly makes in roads with lawyer Oliver Farnsworth (Buck Henry) and uses his advanced technology knowhow to create patents for lucrative inventions.
He’s not trying to get rich, mind you, which he obviously becomes, but his efforts are all to develop a method of water delivery to his drought-ridden home planet. It just takes way longer than he had originally planned.
Yet, in one of the most striking scene in the movie, the effects of this earthbound life are taking its toll and he is carried to his room by a rather quiet hotel clerk named Mary-Lou (Candy Clark in a strong performance). She eventually becomes his go-to person and, in return, she introduces him to alcohol, television, and Sunday church service. Addiction follows with Thomas able to watch five or six televisions all at once. All the while, his company – World Enterprises Co – grows and grows and grows and catches the interest of the U.S. government. His entire plan is eventually threatened.
One of the most interesting (and saddest realities) in the movie is that Thomas never ages. This plan, once set into motion, is decades long and the film – which clocks in at nearly 140 minutes – ages everyone appropriately - except for Bowie. He remains angelic and nearly translucent through it all. His red hair with noticeable blonde roots remains.
We get a couple of flashbacks to his home planet. He has a family there. A wife. Some children. They wear skin-tight white suits and flare their lizard-like eyes as a cataclysmic dryness decimates the land under their feet. These images are filled with haunting images of a desperate family eyeing the horizon for any sign of hope, but it is not until the final scene in which we truly grieve.
And it is Bowie’s performance alongside Roeg’s direction that makes The Man Who Fell to Earth a true cult classic. StudioCanal has done Bowie's legacy proud with this 4K restoration.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 139 mins
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Writer: Paul Mayersberg
Cast: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark
Genre: Sci-fi | Drama
Tagline: You're only welcome if it's beneficial to us.
Memorable Movie Quote: "What're you talking about? Take me with you, I'll see you don't die."
Theatrical Distributor: Cinema 5 Distributing
Release Date: May 28, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: January 24, 2017
Synopsis: Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts a high technology company to get the billions of dollars he needs to build a return spacecraft, and meets Mary-Lou, a girl who falls in love with him. He does not count on the greed and ruthlessness of business here on Earth, however.
DigiPack / Limited Collector's Edition
Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Available on Blu-ray - January 24, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (1 BD-50, 2 DVDs); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region A
Roeg’s film makes its restoration debut from StudioCanal. The new 4K transfer has been fully restored from original negative materials. It is remarkable just how “clean” this transfer is. There are a lot of opticals at play here and the transfer harnesses them well. Grain levels are also solid. The colors are saturated and striking and the detail in the walls, homes, suits, and more is engaging. Black levels are strong and, as there are a lot of dissolves in the film, of importance. Shadows are thick and defined. And the vibrancy in some of the locations never falters. From the small town he originally stumbles into to his dry home planet, one can practically taste the grit and grime. The release also features remastered 2.0 audio for an unparalleled new experience in, as Bowies once sang, sound and vision
Honestly, the limited edition collector’s edition of The Man Who Fell to Earth is the one you NEED to pick up. It is loaded with a lot of supplemental material that you don’t even need to open the case to discover. First, there is an illustrated booklet with writings on the film that is filled with informative discussion on its importance. There are 4 exclusive artcards, an reprint of the original press book for the film, plus a poster of new theatrical poster for the 4K restoration of the film. When you do get to the interviews that the disc offers, you will find over TWO HOURS of interviews from cast and crew, a look at the film’s soundtrack, and an archival interview with Bowie. A UV digital copy, Digital copy, and a DVD copy is also included.
- NEW interview with costume designer May Routh featuring original costume sketches
- NEW interview with stills photographer David James featuring behind the scenes stills
- NEW interview with fan Sam Taylor-Johnson
- NEW interview with producer Michael Deeley
- NEW "The Lost Soundtracks" featurette
- Interview with Candy Clark
- Interview with writer Paul Mayersberg
- Interview with cinematographer Tony Richmond
- Interview with Nic Roeg
- Original Trailers / TV spots
- Watching the Alien featurette