The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)

What's it about? A humanoid extra-terrestrial (David Bowie) comes to Earth searching for water for his home planet which is suffering a drought. His advanced alien knowledge means he gets rich quick, but he also succumbs to some of Earth's vices. 

Is it any good? In its story of a homesick alien stranded on Earth, it's a bit like E.T., only with less sentiment and more genitalia on show. Bowie proves a natural for the otherworldly being by (a) looking like he does and (b) being coked out of his head for most of the shoot, whilst Roeg's trademark cross-editing presentation is beguiling and bewildering by turns. Is everything as it seems? Or even happening in one time-frame? Is it about Jesus? Anyone? Anyway, whatever you take from it, in satirizing things like global corporation, addiction and human culture, there's plenty of thought-provoking stuff here. Although you could be forgiven if one of those thoughts is 'What the hell is this shite?'

I don't trust you. What do others think? It's a firm cult favourite, with various interpretations about what it all means fuelling discussions long into the night amongst its fans. Everybody can agree on Bowie's ethereal performance though, including Bowie himself, who remarked "I'm so pleased I made that film....but I didn't really know what was being made at all. I was stoned out of my mind from beginning to end". Here's a good article from Bowie Golden Years website about his (out-of-body) experience making it.

What does the Fonz think? A sci-fi oddity

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