The Man Who Fell to Earth
The novel and film are depression research in social estrangement and the depredations of alcoholism, loosely attired inside the trappings of technological know-how fiction, that recount the disastrous attempts at earthly assimilation by way of an formidable tourist from some other planet. If some thing, roeg and screenwriter paul mayersberg amplify upon the tragedy of ersatz human and eventual billionaire thomas jerome newton (david bowie, flawlessly cast as the ungainly area oddity), playing up the determined plight of his extraterrestrial circle of relatives, slowly demise on a planet devoid of water. The film is particularly allusive, replete with references to painting, literature, and cinema.
Like its supply material, the man who fell to earth invokes the myth of icarus in ways subtle and overt—from its very name to a prominently displayed espresso-desk ebook that pairs w. H. Auden’s poem “museé des beaux artwork” and breughel’s landscape with the fall of icarus. Roeg weaves snippets of imagery and speak (first glimpsed on newton’s proliferating financial institution of television sets) taken from billy wilder’s love within the afternoon and carol reed’s the 1/3 man into scenes where they offer thematic, albeit ironic, counterpoint, knowingly foreshadowing acts of infidelity and betrayal.