11 October 2003 | yucel81x
Is it art, or is it pornography?
I have just watched "The Man Who Fell to Earth" from beginning to end after seeing several scenes here and there from years of flipping past the sci-fi channel or whatever other channel this film might've been shown on. I must say that I think it is one of the most interesting films I've ever seen. Now before you start thinking this is going to be a review of blind worship, stop for a moment and remember that just because something is interesting doesn't mean it's likeable. Art is not meant to be appealing. It's meant to cause a reaction, it's meant to make you think, it's meant to make you uncomfortable. Art forces feelings upon you that you might rather not experience, so whether you like it or not, this film is a work of art. But some art...in fact a lot of art...is trash. Is this movie trash? Some say yes, some say not. Some think it's brilliant, others think it a waste of time. Some think the narrative's dependence on visual stimulus as opposed to linear storytelling is a touch of cinematic beauty, while others dismiss it as experimental tripe.
Somebody wrote a scathing review saying that if you like junk like "Lost Highway," you might enjoy this movie. Well, no offense meant, but I'd like to say that this person has made clear that he can't see past what's appealing. Why watch something that's unappealing you might ask? Because that's what art's supposed to do...it challenges you and your values. Sometimes it reinforces them, and sometimes it will blatantly attack them. You have to draw your own conclusions and interpretations. "The Man Who Fell to Earth" is no different. Yes, the film seems to jump from time to time, one scene juxtaposed with a scene that takes place 20 years later, a flashback that may or may not be a flashback, it is confusing. I know I was confused. It's not a linear narrative...it's telling a story through pictures, with occasional words just to make sure you have a little more than an inkling as to what you're supposed to be seeing. Personally, I would be interested to see the movie without dialogue...like "Aeon Flux," a story can be told philosophically and artistically without words.
What is the story? Well...quite simply, David Bowie, in his first and probably one of his best on-screen performances, is an alien on Earth trying to find a way to get water back to his world. Is it as simple as it sounds? Not by any means. But you have to believe it to see it. You will be confused, you might even be offended (there's a lot of sexually explicit scenes that border on pornography), but one way or the other, this film is meant to be visually stimulating. What you see will make you think...if you're repulsed by it and feel the urge to turn it off, then it's simply not your kind of movie.
On the whole, I like this movie, though I must be in a certain mood to watch it. It is not easy to watch, there are long stretches without dialogue, and when there is dialogue, it's often confusing. But no matter what, I like what I was seeing on the screen. I do feel like watching it again because I know there is more to absorb and take in, there's more to think about that I missed before. But that's the kind of person I am...I want to think, and I want that discomfort this movie gives me because I am alleviated by the need to solve it, not dismiss it. Bowie is in fine form, probably used to alienation being a Brit in America, and having played his own Ziggy Stardust character in the past. The rest of the cast performs rather competently, although nobody's performance shines as much as Bowie's (although Candy Clarke is pretty good in some scenes, and Rip Torn's deadpan performance is a bit of dry humor).
Dispute me if you must, I give this movie ***1/2 out of ****.