The Man Who Fell To Earth

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The Man Who Fell to Earth is a 1976 British science fiction film directed by Nicolas Roeg and written by Paul Mayersberg. Based on Walter Tevis’s 1963 novel of the same name, the film follows an extraterrestrial who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought, but finds himself at the mercy of human vices and corruption.

The Man Who Fell to Earth retains a cult following for its use of surreal imagery and Bowie’s first starring film role as the alien Thomas Jerome Newton. It is considered an important work of science fiction cinema and one of the best films of Roeg’s career.

Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who falls to Earth from a distant planet, landing in New Mexico. Appearing as an Englishman, Thomas has arrived on Earth on a mission to bring water back to his home planet, which is experiencing a catastrophic drought. Newton swiftly uses the advanced technology of his home planet to patent many inventions on Earth, and acquires tremendous wealth as the head of an Arizona technology-based conglomerate, World Enterprises Corporation, aided by leading patent attorney Oliver Farnsworth. His wealth is needed to construct a space vehicle with the intention of shipping water back to his home planet.

Bowie and Roeg had a good relationship on set. Bowie recalled in 1992 that “we got on rather well. I think I was fulfilling what he needed from me for that role.

Although Bowie was originally approached to provide the music, contractual wrangles during production caused him to withdraw from this aspect of the project. Nonetheless, Bowie would go on to use stills from the film for the covers of two of his albums, Station to Station (1976) and Low (1977), respectively.

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