The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976): David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg’s Cult Classic

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976): David Bowie’s Stunning Debut in Nicolas Roeg’s Cult Classic

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is a 1976-released science fantasy drama film directed by Nicolas Roeg and based on Walter Tevis’s 1963 novel of the same name. David Bowie played his first leading role in this eccentric sci-fi classic. Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial on a mission to salvage his drought-stricken home planet.


On a quest to save his drought-stricken home world, Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien portrayed by David Bowie, descends upon Earth. With the assistance of lawyer Oliver Farnsworth (Buck Henry), Thomas exploits his advanced technological prowess to devise lucrative innovations on Earth.

Amidst his endeavors to devise a means of transporting water back to his home planet, Thomas encounters Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), a reserved hotel clerk, igniting an unexpected romance. However, just as his departure seems imminent, Thomas finds himself trapped and eventually detained by the U.S. government, risking his entire mission.

The film’s strange cinematography and Bowie’s mesmerizing performance rapidly made it a cult classic, influencing later works such as “Under the Skin” and cementing its status as a seminal work of science fiction cinema.

The film’s emotionally charged plot explores issues of loneliness and longing, which are heightened by dramatic scenes between Newton and his human girlfriend, Mary-Lou, played by Candy Clark.

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Roeg’s unusual storytelling approaches add to the film’s ethereal and otherworldly atmosphere, establishing its place as a compelling and timeless piece of cinematic art.

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Where to watch The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
This post is written, edited and published by the Cinecelluloid staff.

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