You may have heard of Rip Torn's recent passing. I've long been a fan of his work. If you've never seen it, go check out Forty Shades of Blue (2005). Many of the mentions of his death referenced his performance in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), alongside the late David Bowie, but I'd never seen the film. I've also been making an effort in my reading to pick up a few classic, pentacle sci-fi titles, trying to better familiarize myself with the foundations of the genre. Thus, tracking down this movie seemed destined.
I want to say I loved it. However, I think this is one of those movies which is too layered and cryptic to merely react to. I think it's going to take some mental digesting to truly form a take on it. I know it is based on a novel by the same name, which I have not read. The story, if I try to outline it, is a relatively simple one, of an alien visitor (Bowie) trying to find a way home, but then the 2hr 19min film piles on layer after layer of the visitor observing, learning, and engaging human. I suspect there is some criticism of our society wound in there, but I have to admit it isn't jumping out at me a profound insight into our contrary nature.
The story reminds me of the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which I read earlier this year. I'm sure I'm not the first to make such a link, and that book definitely tried to take humanity, our society, our religions, American capitalism all to task, but the film version of The Man Who Fell to Earth, didn't seem to do so, so handily.
The performances were great, especially for me, Candy Clark's, and indeed Rip Torn's. So I'm at a point where I need this movie to settle in a bit. Maybe I'll dig more. Maybe I'll go look into the novel. Maybe more depth will come to me. We'll see...