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What the Critics Say About The Man Who Fell to Earth


“THE MOST INTELLECTUALLY PROVOCATIVE GENRE FILM OF THE 1970s! A rich testament to Roeg's own strange, adopted land: America. Go back now and thrill to the movie’s evocative terrain, stretching from the canyons of Manhattan to the wide, open spaces of the Southwest—a poetic place of motels, banal government stooges and wild, white horses running alongside trains... The tale is one of a meltdown, situated in a real-life national moment straddling paranoia and the inviting horizon; you can easily hold it up to Nashville, orange hair and all.”
Joshua Rothkopf,Time Out New York

“DAZZLING! TIME HAS DONE NOTHING TO REDUCE ITS COOL, CONFOUNDING STRANGENESS! Here is a sci-fi movie dedicated to the notion that no planet, anywhere else in the galaxy, would look half as freakish as our own would to the inquiring visitor."
– Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“A MASTERPIECE! May look like a moody, mysterious sci-fi drama, but it's really a dark meditation on fame, capitalism, and temptation.”
New York Magazine

“DAVID BOWIE GIVES A COOLY UNDERSTATED PERFORMANCE as Thomas Newton, a space oddity turned King Midas... Glorious desert landscapes are juxtaposed with the chattering circuitry of modern life as the director advances his familiar sociological arguments amid hallucinogenic sequences that convey Newton's consciousness at play. The supporting cast is classic.”
Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal

VILLAGE VOICE CHOICE! Released the year before Spielberg and Lucas changed the genre and thus hippie sci-fi’s last hurrah, this typically fragmented Nicholas Roeg production stars David Bowie in the role he was born (or perhaps reborn) to play—a distinguished visitor from another world.
– Jim Hoberman, The Village Voice

“A HYPNOTIC, TRANCE-INDUCING EXPERIENCE! Bowie’s turn, in his first lead performance, is so intense as to feel pretty definitive.”

“HUGELY AMBITIOUS AND IMAGINATIVE! Transforms a straightforward science fiction story into a rich kaleidoscope of contemporary America… Roeg, often using a dazzling technical skill, jettisons narrative in favour of thematic juxtapositions, exploring the clichés of social and cultural ritual. VISUALLY A TREAT THROUGHOUT!”
– Time Out (London)

"Roeg employed nonlinear editing as part of an ambitious attempt to bridge space and time, cutting frames together with an eye toward enriching the interplay of associations in the viewer’s mind. Thus a gesture at the center of one scene is overtly replicated in the next one, or one character seemingly responds to another, even if the two actions or people are decades or time zones apart. One rarely engages fully with the sloppy top layers of a Roeg film (the characters, the story). The real action takes place on a slightly creepy subliminal level."
Darrell Hartman, ArtForum

Roeg shoots spectacular landscapes outside (New Mexico white sands) and in (70s interior decorating), fracturing sound and vision, space and time, and splicing in fascinated Earthlings….Though routinely seen as a mirror to America, it's more compelling for the near-classicism of its fallen-god sci-fi conceit, curdled just enough by Bowie's not yet shopworn oddity, making for a key work in a decade when the genre spanned arty deep-dish, futureshock dystopian, and Spielberg-Lucas pop-apotheosis treatments.
-- Nicolas Rapold, L Magazine

"ABSORBING AND AS BEAUTIFUL! Mr. Roeg has chosen the garish, translucent, androgynous-mannered rock-star, David Bowie, for his space visitor. The choice is inspired. Mr. Bowie gives an extraordinary performance. The details, the chemistry of this tall pale figure with black-rimmed eyes are clearly not human. Yet he acquires a moving, tragic force as the stranger caught and destroyed in a strange land."
– Richard Eder, The New York Times

"A SINGULAR, HAUNTING SCI-FI EXPERIENCE! Like Roeg's Walkabout, Man Who Fell to Earth is an exploration of an individual's grappling with an unfamiliar and unfriendly landscape, but whereas in Walkabout the landscape is the Australian outback, here it's the entirety of Earth."
– Matt Noller, Slant Magazine

“Released the year before Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars, a science fiction film without science, a terrestrial space opera minus matte shots, models, or pyrotechnics that leaves us not wondering at the stars but grieving for ourselves. Roeg delights here in ‘taking away the crutch of time’ (it has puzzled people whether 25 minutes or 25 years have passed in the film), eliminating transitions, cross-cutting, flashing forward and back, piling dissolve upon dissolve, letting the camera jerk and twirl and zoom — finding new ways to see familiar things, while speculating on what the world might look like to someone from Out There.”
– Robert Lloyd

“Science fiction drama, Western, love story, metaphysical mystery, satire of modern America — the most beguiling of the films that, in a dozen years embracing the 1970s, established Roeg as a mainstreamheir to such 60s experimentalists as Resnais, Godard, and Marker… Roeg is more interested in showing how life on Earth is stranger and more disconcerting than anything in outer space…. Bowie made his exquisite film debut in a role that chimed iconographically with his androgynous, futuristic pop persona of the early seventies.”
– Graham Fuller

Click here to read David Fear's Time Out New York interview with Nicolas Roeg.

Mark Olsen talkes with Nic Roeg on his career and The Man Who Fell to Earth for The Los Angeles Times

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