MovieChat Forums > The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) Discussion > One of the worst movies I've seen

One of the worst movies I've seen


I'm usually in to strange movies like this. I love David Lynch, and I don't have any problems with artistic freedom, but this was just bad, bad, bad.

The actors were mediocre,
The effects were laughable,
The lighting made it look like a home-movie,
The Cuts were confusing and didn't make any sense a lot of the time,
and the structure of the screenplay was so bad it took me an hour to figure out what the hell was going on? (very confused about the aliens on the "desert-tram" and what the plot was all about),
The adaptation I hear is not good (I haven't read it though).
Also, what the hell was the point with Rip Torn's sex-scenes? They had no relation to the story at all?

You may call me stupid, but both me and my (history/language teacher-)girlfriend was baffled by how terrible this film was. I would like to point out that it had potential. I'm really looking forward to the remake.

PS. I'm Norwegian, don't pick on my English skills :)

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[deleted]

It's pretty bad. There just isn't much of a plot and no decent writing, thus no compelling characters. But I'd love to see a proper remake of it.

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its people like you that will ruin every classic movie. maybe they should just make a sequel instead...

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bstonenj you rock! Thank goodness for someone who speaks sense.

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I don't mind the bad effects or the age of the movie. I love old movies. My favorite movies are all 25+ years. But this one... didn't work for me. At all.

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Agreed I saw this in the theater and I thought it was awful! It made absolutely no sense at all. Another poster said the directors cut was much better and filled a lot of plot holes. I sat through this nauseating movie until the end because it'd cost me good money.

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I totally agree.. I just watched this on HBO and wrote a mini review of it on Letrboxed when I was registering my watching of it.. and I thought.. wow.. I bet all the IMDB boards people will be all jizzing about this saying we just don't get it... thank GOODNESS I was incorrect.. hear hear for all of you who also hated this piece of crap ! !:)

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[deleted]

Bowie made Lazarus, his off-Broadway musical, as a sequel of sorts. The main character is called Thomas Newton.

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compare with the nausea-inducing Liquid Sky...this movie is a work of genius!

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I love this film.

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your post is 3 years old but I gotta say, Liquid Sky is amazing! Nausea inducing can be a good thing too.

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I just saw it and I have to say it's one of the best films I have ever seen. Absolutely perfect!!!!

P.S. I'm Norwegian too. Nice to meet you.

Somebody here has been drinking and I'm sad to say it ain't me - Allan Francis Doyle

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I love this movie too, it is sad and poignant in equal measures and looks fantastic, the production design and costume are first class. It breaks my heart every time I see it, I read that it was made on a very low budget which makes it a labour of love by the crew.

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Yeah if you look at it like that it was really good. It's not their fault they didn't have spiderman special effects. I thought it was fun too watch and that's all that matters to me in a film. besides I've never seen a sex scene like the one with the gun. I was nervous and turned on at the same time.

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[deleted]

I realise this is years later. But one of the nice things about the Internet is that conversations can take that long.

> However the Rip Torn sex scenes bothered the hell out of me, it was repeating a point that was already stated not more than 5-10 minutes before, while cutting away from the development of Bowie's character.

To me, these seemed to be emphasising something that Dr. Bryce says later on in some narration, about how much his life changed by working with WE. His primary vice is sapped away and he becomes focussed on this thing, this project. You pointed this out yourself, so basically I'm agreeing with you on this point. I think the repeated nature of the scenes, and in particular the overlapping of different women saying similar things or following a line of conversation in concert is just a device to show how promiscuous he was. It would be like showing a sequence of scenes about a drunk who gets himself together. You wouldn't just show one binge at the bar, that wouldn't get the point across. You'd show how this is a common problem with the guy and that he is addicted to burying his life in this vice.

I do not think you would disagree with that, so I feel that your only problem with this is that the man's vice involved something that impinges upon your comfort level.

And to answer why nudity (male and female) was necessary to the impact of the scenes, well the sex scenes were all interleaved with various other events going on. This was most effectively done with the first, where the sex was most vividly portrayed as being overly violent, interleaved with theatrical performance depicting a sword fight. It was, to me, a sort of comedic theatrical performance of human sex as seen from an outsider's point of view. This is a common mammalian trait (a point that was accentuated subtly in some of the nature shows Newton watched, where the male lion "love bites" the female lion on the neck).

It would be difficult to capture a caricature of human mating styles, as viewed by someone from another species, without nudity. I thought it was particularly interesting to show things that way, and then show the evolution of Newton's sex life as he increasingly "went native". In the end he was every bit as exaggeratedly violent as the now monk-like Bryce had been.

> I was also perplexed as to why the nude swimming pool scene was included. I thought it was a very beautiful shot, but what purpose did it serve?

A demonstration of power. As he was enjoying a luxurious swim, the murders that he had ordered had been undertaken. I suppose, coming from someone who is decidedly *not* a prude (so take what I say as being a point of perspective rather than debate) I barely even noticed that anyone was nude in this shot at all. What I did notice was the clear demonstration of physical power, shown by a man who could dive into a pool, kick once to clear it, and then lift a grown women clear out of the pool onto the side, above his chest, so that she lands on her feet. It was such an impressive looking show of strength, and I'm positive that was meant to be directly compared with the political power being used to murder one of the most wealthy men in the world (and his lover). I suppose this could have been done with bathing suits on, but why? I see that question asked often by people who are annoyed or bothered by the depiction of the human form: why does this even need to be here---but I feel the same way, why *do* they need clothes or swimwear? What would be the reason for shooting this shot with swimwear? I can't think of one, outside of what I would consider to be antiquated socially induced fear of our own flesh. It seems perfectly natural to me to go swimming in the nude. Like I say, I don't wish this to be a point of debate, and I certainly do not mean to offend. I merely wish to offer a counter-perspective from someone who does not see things the way you do. Like I say, to me I barely even noticed the nudity in this shot. That wasn't the focus of it.

I think you might have a point with the analogy of falling to earth/falling into the pool. He did land in the lake after all. Combining this with my conception of the scene perhaps you could say that power, in a sense, comes from an efficient use of one's environment. Newton did not know how to fit into the environment, either biologically or socially and the power he did obtain from his inventions was a fickle sort, whereas the power this retired military man had attained was precisely the sort of lasting, strong influence that can only come from being born in, raised, and intelligent and lucky enough to manipulate the currents of life around you into pushing you to the surface of the pool of life.

At any rate, I would echo what **noguano** said below. The '70s era in film had a naturalist side to it that I miss in modern cinema. Back then a person could be shown sitting nude in their home reading a book, and that was just an honest depiction of what people do. There wasn't a point necessarily being made by this; no it isn't *necessary* to show them nude, but nor is it necessary *not* to. It's a part of human life, and snipping that out of film is just bias. Well that's my opinion.

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Nice post. I agree. I love these conversations over years. Shame on Bezos for shutting IMDB down.

I liked the nudity. Not a prude. It was also something that was a sign of the times it was made.

To address other things. I think there is a theme of the Fallen Angels in this movie. It's a typical Hollywood theme and I'm not an expert on it, but I've seen enough imagery and analysis to know it's used frequently. We even saw Lady Gaga do this a the Superbowl show..it was blatantly obvious.

We know Thomas would represent the good angel and he doesn't age and is kinda supernatural. I think the sex scenes with Bryce have a purpose. I didn't get it on the first viewing. Thomas and Bryce have some kind of Telepathy going on. They even thought they met before. Bryce's narrative seems to hint that he may also be a fallen angel or not of this earth/normal human. The legend said that the fallen angels created man and had sex with women (Nephilim) and we are the offspring. Bryce seems to demonstrate this. Women were so beautiful he couldn't resist and wanted to become human and spend his life in hedonistic pursuits. Earth was his playground. Thomas was pursuing wealth, presumably to build a space ship/time machine to get back to his place/time to be with his wife/family. He even says they have visited many times. He has flashbacks to different time periods, which is either inter-dimensional vision, parallel time lines crossing waves or he had past lives or he is immortal and is flashing back to past visions of places he'd been before (and maybe not immortal but lives 500-1000 years as legend had it).

I wonder if even the Black guy was a dark fallen angel with a different agenda. He had the agents reporting to him who were aware of Thomas' "unearthly" arrival and tracking him. He too was mating with beautiful women and had superior strength as you noted.

It's no accident Bowie played this role (Ziggy Stardust, Lazarus, Tesla, Black Star, Kaballah etc etc)

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This site must limit characters per post so I can't fit everything in.

Bryce made a peculiar statement in the early part of the film to the effect that the students only age because they are brainwashed, implying he did not age as fast and had esoteric knowledge. Both he and Thomas are non violent and don't wish to use technology for weaponry, though Bryce is not as moral as Thomas (drinks, promiscuous, used hidden heat photography, took Mary Lou from Thomas, compromised Thomas).

Back to the visions of past....I wonder if these convey Ley lines or some kind of inter-dimensional vortex's and thus near where Thomas landed in the lake and later built a house to be near that specific and remote location.

I also wonder about the time travel aspect. When Thomas is in the desert alone watching TV he says he came from "over there somewhere" pointing at ground level and the scenery looks very similar to the train scenes with his family. Peculiar that he doesn't point to the sky. This movie brings up so many interesting questions the more you watch it.

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No one does sex scenes as well as Nicholas Roeg, imo.

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[deleted]

Its a hauntingly sad and original story (based on Walter Tevis' brilliant novel) and it moved me to tears when I first saw it.

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[deleted]

very poor pacing, uninteresting characters, self indulgent and repetitive shots over and over again. a waste of 2+ hours.

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don't you mean "both me and my girlfriend WERE baffled"
that seems like the proper grammar to use in context with your sentence.

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I love the film, and the nudity. Why are people so prudish nowadays? I love movies from the 70's. They had a much more free spirit than the movies of today. They just seem more real.

that is all

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Actually, "my girlfriend and I were baffled" is grammatically correct (no 'both' needed). If you're going to nitpick about grammar (which I do all the time) you should probably brush up on yours. 😉

(And yes, I realize that by correcting the grammar of someone who asked us not to you were being a troll.)

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So what's next on your agenda jacka$$? You going to trash Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" for ineffective use of dialog? I mean where does it end?

By the Way; what does David Lynch have to do with this movie?

PS: I'm 1/2 Norwegian myself, it's not an excuse for idiocy.

...Guess What S1m0ne! We have now entered an age where we can manufacture fraud faster than our ability to detect it

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David Lynch has nothing to do with this..... I hope since you posted this over a year ago you maybe have given the film a second chance????? Now that you know the premise, perhaps you will be able to see deeper into the film. Grasp new things you didn't see before? It is a great film. At least to some of us.

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I thought David Bowie was exquisite. Every scene he was in I couldn't take my eyes off him for a second. I thought his acting was great. The movie was fantastic, really, but difficult to make sense of. Bowie's character came to earth to save his planet, but what exactly did he do? He built multi-billion dollar corporations to make money, but then what?

Also, was he stuck on earth at the end? It didn't seem like he was going anywhere. ???? Very mysterious.

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This movie is mediocre....on every level.

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This is one of my favourite movies of all time; I gave it 10/10...because there is no 11/10! I can understand that this is not everybody's cup of tea in terms of editing style (which has left many confused), but the acting was absolutely wonderful. David Bowie was perfect in his role; even if the scene where he takes off his human disguise were not included, we would still be convinced that he was an alien simply by his facial expressions and his way of speaking...totally unearthly. Candy Clark was also perfect in her role; her performance was one of the most natural I have ever seen. The cinematography was very beautiful, and I did love Roeg's visual style. As for the nudity, I thought it was pertinent to the story so it didn't bother me at all. I also loved the atmoshere created- there was a strong sense of mystery at the beginning and throughout, but which little by little translated into a sense of urgency and helplessness. The last scene was particularly striking; "I think Mr. Newton has had enough," was perfect, and very relevant not only to the story, of course, but also when referring to us in general (I suppose that for many of us, there comes a point where we cannot face the society conventions anymore, and we've just had enough of everything). As well, I think that the story has many dimensions; Of course, there is the objective story, but there are many themes, for example, the way that in society, anyone who is different in character, ideology, philosophy, etc from what is considered to be the norm is nearly always scorned at and treated as if he were crazy.

I don't want realism. I want magic!

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> The actors were mediocre,

Subject to debate, but keep in mind that this was David Bowie's acting debut. That said, I thought he played Newton with a lot of depth and pathos. I was genuinely concerned with his character by the end of the film.

> The effects were laughable,

Maybe, but SciFi doesn't have a GREAT history with this, especially since the effects tend to become dated over time. Fritz Lang's _Metropolis_ has incredibly dated effects as well, but it is still a classic. Keep in mind that this is not a documentary, so not everything is going to be lifelike. :)

> The lighting made it look like a home-movie,

I'm curious what examples you have of that. I found the lighting to be, in most cases, indicative of some mood.

> The Cuts were confusing and didn't make any sense a lot of the time,

The cuts, in several cases, were meant to convey the disconnected feeling that Newton has being on a completely new planet in a completely new society. He is making an adjustment, a key theme to the film.

> and the structure of the screenplay was so bad it took me an hour to figure out what the hell was going on? (very confused about the aliens on the "desert-tram" and what the plot was all about),

OK, I can't really help you with that. Depending on the cut that you saw - the 120 minute US release cut or the 140 minute Director's cut - it might not have been pretty clear, but by the time that Newton talks to Mary Lou about his family being out there waiting for him... well, you should have sorted that out by then. You might have also had some suspicions in the first scene when we see Newton land into a lake.

Beyond that, the story is NOT meant to be completely linear or transparent. If an alien landed on Earth, attempting to do what Newton was trying to do, why would he come right out and tell everyone from the start? He wouldn't, much for the same reasons why he only wanted to interact with a very few number of people (Farnsworth, Bryce and Mary Lou, to start). Much of the story is hidden because much of the character would be hidden.

> The adaptation I hear is not good (I haven't read it though).

The book is better and does explain more about why Newton left his planet, but when is the book NOT better than the film?

> Also, what the hell was the point with Rip Torn's sex-scenes? They had no relation to the story at all?

It has a lot of relevance to the story, but again, depending on the cut of the film that you saw. Bryce's sex scenes convey the major weakness of that character and he even makes it explicit that he is only concerned with sex and work. Once he comes under the employment of Newton, he has lost his fascination with sex and tells us that explicitly as well. But notice that as he loses it, Newton gains it. By the end, Newton is having sex with Mary Lou and a gun - very similar to Bryce's sex with a camera - but Bryce is content to go booze shopping with Mary Lou. In short, Newton took Bryce's appetite for unconventional sex, using it as a weapon of power and control, and Bryce has taken Newton's vulnerability. They are all part of the humanization process of Newton. (Think now about the non-literal meaning of the title.)

> You may call me stupid, but both me and my (history/language teacher-)girlfriend was baffled by how terrible this film was. I would like to point out that it had potential. I'm really looking forward to the remake.

It's dense film and there's a lot going on. I would never call someone stupid for not liking a film or seeing all the subtext.

> PS. I'm Norwegian, don't pick on my English skills :)

Your English was perfect. No worries. :)

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