First advertised as a “mind-stretching experience,” Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 The Man Who Fell to Earth stunned the cinema world. A tour-de-force of science fiction as art form, the movie brought not only hallucinatory visuals and a haunting exploration of contemporary alienation, but also glam-rock legend David Bowie in his lead role debut as paranoid alien Newton.
Based on Walter Tevis’s 1963 sci-fi fable of the same title, The Man Who Fell to Earth follows alien Newton from his arrival on earth in search of water; his transition to wealthy entrepreneur, leveraging the advanced technologies of his native planet; his sexual awakening with the young Mary-Lou; and then the discovery of his alien identity, his imprisonment, abandonment, and descent into alcoholism. Throughout, Roeg coaxed a beguiling performance from his cast, presenting not only Bowie in ethereal space-traveler glory, but also pitch-perfect supporting performances from Candy Clark, Rip Torn, and Buck Henry.
TASCHEN’s The Man Who Fell to Earth presents a plenitude of stills and behind-the-scenes images by unit photographer David James, including numerous shots of Bowie at his playful and ambiguous best. A fresh introductory essay explores the shooting of the film and its lasting impact, drawing upon an exclusive interview with David James, who brings first-hand insights into the making of this sci-fi masterwork.
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