The Man Who Fell to Earth
Director- Nicholas Roeg
Cast- David Bowie, Candy Clark.
Country of Origin- U.K./U.S.
Discs - 3
Distributor - Lionsgate
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 01/23/2017
The Film (5/5)
The Man Who Fell to Earth which is based on a novel by Walter Tevis is the perfect vehicle for both Nicholas Roeg and David Bowie to venture into together. Bowie had dominated the early portion of the 70's with albums like Space Oddity and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and his look in the first half of the decade left many thinking he had come from another planet. Couple this with the fact that Bowie has as an artist even to his final album was always progressing with his sound. We then have Roeg, who as a filmmaker was never an artist that was easy to nail down. He frequently used deeply complex visuals as springboards into his narratives. A story like The Man Who Fell to Earth is almost too perfect a place for the director and star to meet.
The film tells the story of Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from an unnamed planet that is now totally devoid of water. He was sent before the film begins in a single occupancy spacecraft to Earth to retrieve water, and bring it back to his planet and save his family including a wife and children. To do this he brings designs which he can patent, and make money from, and hopefully fuel a return trip with water back home.
As the film begins we see Newton raising money first by pawning jewelry to get the services of a big city attorney, and then using his services to start World Enterprises. Of course, things aren't as easy as they seem, and the success of World Enterprises begins to give Newton the money he needs, but at the same time Newton becomes addicted to Earthly pleasures like alcohol, sex, and television. Also, his sudden success in the technology realm calls the attention of the U.S. government who become involved when he attempts to finally escape to his world.
The film is a near perfect experience from a visual perspective, as Roeg captures some gorgeous visuals of the American southwest, and also manages to depict science fiction from a little seen perspective. The narrative of the film based off the book by Tevis, but redone by Roeg for the screen is given great service here. It is not quite straight forward, and for new viewers this is the sort of film that will absolutely take a few viewings to absorb, as it certainly does not give you everything you need to piece it together immediately. The performances across the board are stunning. David Bowie was MADE to play T.J. Newton, and he fills the role here effortlessly.
Lionsgate presents Nicholas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth in a splendid 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films OAR. The Criterion is very OOP at this point, and for region A exclusive consumers this would be the most cost effective solution to get the film on the format, for others that are region free there is a British release that occurred last in 2016. However, this release is quite good, and is comparable to the older Criterion release, though even with a 4k scan, I can't for certain say it exceeds it (I have both).
The new Lionsgate release does have excellent colors, and quite decent detail, the grain structure is strong and natural for the most part. There is some minor softness, but that is to expected, and is a consequence of the production I would assume as it has carried over through all prior releases I have owned (1 VHS, Criterion DVD, Criterion Blu, and this LG Blu).
Audio is presented DTS-HD MA in English optional subs are included. Everything sounds quite well here. Dialogue and score are crisp and clear.
Lionsgate have loaded this one up. We get over 2 hours worth of interviews, a soundtrack featurettes that runs 16 minutes, a French TV interview with Bowie from 1977, and the film's trailer. Off the disc are loads of recreated supplements lobby cards, art cards stills, and more.
An absolutely wonderful collaboration that shows off the strengths of both Bowie and Roeg the Man Who Fell to Earth truly is a brilliant sci-fi experience. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and comes packed with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.