CRACKED ACTOR: BOWIE ON FILM - The Man Who Fell To Earth

Bowie first touched down as a film lead in Nic Roeg’s nightmarish fable of an alien visitor come to save his world from drought, only to be drained by the degradation and despair he finds on Earth. The role proved eerily autobiographical as Bowie, armed with aspirations of shifting to cinema, had recently transplanted to Los Angeles for what he would later refer to as “singularly the darkest days of my life”. This paranoaic milk/red peppers/cocaine diet period produced his haunted funk masterpiece Station to Station, fears of possessed swimming pools and semen stealing witches, and Thomas Jerome Newton, the titular “Man Who” and Bowie’s most defining role. Wrapped in Roeg’s shimmering weirdscapes and timebending editing, the film is a fever dream jeremiad, shatteringly reflecting the nihilistic excesses of its era. This pivotal moment in Bowie’s story must be seen and cannot be forgotten.

“I just learned the lines for that day and did them the way I was feeling. It wasn’t that far off. I actually was feeling as alienated as that character was. It was a pretty natural performance…a good exhibition of somebody literally falling apart in front of you.“ – David Bowie

Dir. Nicolas Roeg, 1976, DCP, 139 min.

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