THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH -- At the Key in Georgetown.
The extended version of "The Man Who Fell to Earth," opening this weekend at the Key, should delight David Bowie's hard-core fans in more ways than one. Included in the 22 minutes of extra footage is a psychedelic, sexually explicit love scene between Bowie and co-star Candy Clark that director Nicolas Roeg edited out of his film in 1976, reportedly in order to avoid an X rating. This version is unrated.
The sexy snippet gives a kinky edge to Roeg's science-fiction classic, which achieved a sort of instant cult status when it was first released. Roeg's unabashedly sentimental direction and Bowie's outrageous style resulted in a film that with all its faults is moving and original.
Bowie plays an alien named Thomas Jerome Newton who leaves his family on a distant drought-ridden planet and, armed with a British passport, travels to earth in search of water. He found a huge corporation, World Enterprises, and sets to work making a fortune so he can save his planet.
The sense of humor that was so lacking in Roeg's most recent movie, "Bad Timing," is wonderfully apparent here. Wordless vignettes of Americana -- a clown-shaped carnival tent tossed about by the wind, smile-button signs, televisions everywhere -- dot the film.
Roeg's playfulness carries over into the dialogue. "You're an alien!" screams Candy Clark unexpectedly. Then: "You know what would happen if they found out your visa's expired?"
Clark plays Newton's sweet, simpleminded and sunny girlfriend, an ingenuous alcoholic given to unintentionally perceptive statements. "They always seem to lead such interesting lives, people who travel," she muses. And, "I never knew just how beautiful this country was. Bee-yoo-tee-ful!"
Newton is corrupted by forces beyond his control, betrayed by Judas-like business associates and ultimately taken prisoner by CIA-like goons -- the government decides his corporate innovations are messing up the "social ecology." The religious and social parallels are there for the drawing.
These less-than-subtle touches are tempered by many moving moments, as when Newton tells his girlfriend about his kids back home. "They're like children," he says sadly. "Exactly like children."
Bowie was clearly ahead of his time -- his punkish manner seems more stylish now than ever. It's this very outrageousness, combined with his gentle, soft-spoken manner, that makes his character so appealing.