The Man Who Fell to Earth
Nicolas Roeg’s loose interpretation of Walter Tevis’s novel is a puzzlingly beautiful, mixed-genre hallucination unlike any other science-fiction film. Bowie—willowy, aloof, and elegant as ever—made his unforgettable screen debut as the extraterrestrial humanoid who builds a billion-dollar corporate empire and creates a private space program to save his dying home world, but is undone by earthly emotional attachments and the machinations of a shadowy syndicate. Special effects are at a minimum here, deferring instead to the alienating landscapes of America—spectacularly lensed by Anthony Richmond—and the indelible performances from Rip Torn, Candy Clark, and Buck Henry. While incomprehensibly sanitized upon its initial American release, The Man Who Fell to Earth has become a cult classic and remains inspired throughout—from the splendorous visuals, surprising emotionality, and flawless casting of the Thin White Duke.