Watch: David Bowie, ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ and an Immortal Soundtrack

Watch: David Bowie, ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ and an Immortal Soundtrack

When they made this video essay for Film Comment on Nicolas Roeg’s ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ Sean Doyle and Violet Lucca must have been reading my mind. From time to time, I (re-)listen to David Bowie, always with the same objective: trying to determine if his songs, with their esoteric lyrics and winding melodies, are actually good, or just products of a period, and moreover of an impenetrable affect. Most often my conclusion lies with the former. This video did little to sway me one way or the other on that question, but what it did do was educate me on the history of a remarkable film, most notably the history of its soundtrack. Bowie wrote a soundtrack for the film, but director Nicolas Roeg went with John Phillips, previously of The Mamas and the Papas, for the job. While Bowie’s soundtrack would probably have had an appropriately whacked-out tone for the film’s central character, alien Thomas Jerome Newton, Doyle and Lucca show that Phillips’ soundtrack has its own rewarding complexities.  

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