On ScienceFiction.com, we’ve talked a lot about how Bowie is the king of science fiction, but we’ve never actually touched on his one theatrical foray into the genre. That’s why it’s the subject of today’s Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s column dedicated to great science fiction of the past.
Originally a novel about an alien creature (named Thomas Jerome Newton) who came to Earth in search of water because his planet is dying of thirst, ‘The Man who Fell to Earth’ was made into a move in 1973. The movie follows sort of the same premise, only there is a whole lot more naked David Bowie.
Got your attention there, did I? Well, if you want to see if the famous ‘Labyrinth’ bulge is real, check ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’. Well, not really. It’s mostly waist up shots, and a fair amount of his backside to boot, but you can sort of get an idea what he might be packing down there.
If that isn’t your thing, than the movie may not be for you.
Okay, there’s more to it than that. Though sometimes it’s hard to see the tress for the naked David Bowie. In any case, it’s a movie that discusses the very real dangers of nuclear war (Thomas’ home planet, Anthea, is suffering a severe drought due to a nuclear war that left only 300 survivors), the problems of alcohol addiction, what it means to be alone, and the pull of personal gain over far away pressing needs (something I always saw as a comment on the lackluster start of the environmentalism movement). At least, those seem to be important to the movie. Really, it has pacing issues that make it drag on, and it’s filled with surreal images that distract rather than enlighten, so it tends to be a little difficult to grasp the meaning on the first viewing. (But then again, the first time I watched this, my Dad was in the room, and I had to get up and leave every time I felt embarrassed for the naked Bowie, so that may have colored my view on the matter).
It’s a tragic movie, so if you’re looking for the hope of ‘Star Trek’ in your sci-fi, this is not the movie for you. However, if you want to unravel a deeply homesick movie about an alien who fails to save his family, or see a lot of David Bowie’s incredibly pale skin, then have at it! Enjoy!
For what it’s worth, there has been no sci-fi since that has interpreted the sci-fi genre the way ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ has, so it is a must-see on every sci-fi geeks list.