Bowie the Freaky Spaceman

And you thought David Bowie looked weird in real life! In Nicolas Roeg’s psychedelic sci-fi landmark The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), he takes it all off, including his skin, hair, and irises. He’s a spaceman who’s supposed to be raising money so he can go deliver water to his home planet, but instead he gets distracted by TV, alcohol, and having sex with Candy Clark. He ends up as a fedora-wearing recluse while Candy Clark ends up married to rocket scientist Rip Torn; at least they got to experience plenty of bizarre imagery along the way. Like weird volcano bodies! And Bowie’s dying alien family! And Buck Henry with coke-bottle glasses!

The movie’s edited for maximum confusion, and it swallows its own narrative tail a few times. But hey, it’s from Nicolas Roeg, the visionary who brought us a Borgesian bullet hole through Mick Jagger’s head and a dwarf in a red raincoat stabbing Donald Sutherland. Would you expect anything less? If you want to learn more, I’ve got a review of The Man Who Fell to Earth up at 366 Weird Movies. Despite all the film’s missteps, you can’t deny that casting Bowie as an extraterrestrial was a major casting coup. I’ll conclude with one of my favorite images from the film, which proves that for all his pretension and self-indulgence, Roeg sure knew how to photograph the human body…


Filed under Body, Cinema

3 responses to “Bowie the Freaky Spaceman

  1. This movie is so freaky-ass brilliant. I mean, even if it wasn’t, the fedora would make it so.

  2. That first picture is enough to scare me away from watching it.
    I get nightmares from weird freaky movies.

    • Most of The Man Who Fell to Earth isn’t quite as extreme as that picture implies, but… yeah, it’s not really for more sensitive tastes. I don’t know if I’d say it’s nightmare-inducing, but it’s certainly a little bit traumatic (whether from the imagery or how far Bowie’s character falls).

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