The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

“Well I’m not a scientist. But I know all things begin and end in eternity.” Rock star David Bowie is Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a doomed, water-starved planet, in this offbeat, surreal and ultimately bleak science fiction offering from director Nicolas Roeg (Performance). Newton rapidly loses sight of his original mission of building a spaceship and shipping back water to his planet and he gradually gets enveloped in a purple haze of sex, booze and endless hours of television. Candy Clark (American Graffiti) portrays Mary-Lou, the hotel maid who befriends Newton. The cast includes Buck Henry as patent attorney Oliver Farnsworth and Rip Torn as college professor Nathan Bryce. Best line: “. . . the strange thing about television is that it doesn’t tell you anything.” The Man Who Fell to Earth is based on a 1963 science fiction novel by Walter Tevis. Writer James Sallis referred to it as “among the finest science fiction novels,” and remarked, “Just beneath the surface it might be read as a parable of the Fifties and of the Cold War. Beneath that as an evocation of existential loneliness, a Christian fable, a parable of the artist. Above all, perhaps, as the wisest, truest representation of alcoholism ever written.”

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