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Review of "The Man Who Fell to Earth" with some Gnostic Attachment
2006 09 23

By Lukas Devita

It came at last. The Russian satellite channel TV 6 had shown The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976, director Nicolas Roeg, starring David Bowie) as late night movie. And it found me sitting alone with the telly in the dark kitchen after seven years of waiting. After all,I’d like to suggest The Man Who Fell To Earth to be one of the most important films ever made. The fact that it has become the part of my life (after seeing it one only time) even can’t express that it really ment to me.

So the story goes back to the fresh post Soviet times in one of the Baltic states, Lithuania,when The Man Who Fell To Earth was shown for the first time (it’s 1991 !) in Vilnius, unofficially in “video hall” (re-recorded video, projected on the screen). I got there young and poor being a long time fan of David Bowie, but I had no idea about the film.

Every thing was stunning from the beginning. Heavenly and thin hero,color of the hair,every move,every shot (though the showing quality was far less than good). Sound of translation (in Russian language) was terrible and I could hardly catch the words.But I was totally taken by the view.

And here comes that QUESTION, ”that you wanted to ask all this time”, addressed to Mr.Newton (David Bowie) - “Are you Lithuanian?" Can you imagine how would you feel sitting in that cold hall, being Lithuanian,and keeping eye on David all the time ! The audience was waiting breathlessly (Lithuanians,anyway !). “No” - was the answer (though not so sure). The hall got easier with one conventional sigh. But,I think,I stayed breathless till the end (of the movie). It was impossible to think of nothing during it. But,walking home,something absolutely new thought walked in through the doors of my mind.

I was taken by the idea of film but I couldn't even recover it at first.

The Man Who Fell To Earth is exceptional by it’s courage to keep the things in secret. Its mysticism lies even in editing style that is so creatively developed.

That alien is both the man,yeah,look at the title - I said to my self,- man. We keep our consciousness too tight.

The Man Who Fell To Earth has very few “features” common to “normal” science fiction tale. There was the end and the audience left the hall misunderstood - not even any flying object.

Also there’s no such thing as typical stupid “film” emotionality. By this reason some could find David Bowie “cold”, acting like the real alien. Is it in the character (Thomas Jerome Newton) or does this cool actor suits the role so perfect ? For me it’s a higher dimension of being, related to that could be called sacred, no hate and no euphoria, - deep knowing within. David Bowie creates the role using his extraordinary personality.

Maybe the key is also in understanding the term alien in this tale.

I was “sketching” different pieces of the vision left in my mind after the film and I felt like coming through the gates. Alien is the feeling,it’s condition of the soul rather than time or distance.

Let me mention that at the time of seeing the film I was step-by-step interested in UFO phenomena but even more stronger I was under influence of the Gnosticism. But this strange relation between the Gnostic thoughts and The Man Who Fell To Earth was too much even for my young heart. But what to say, when in the book of NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY IN ENGLISH (Brill Editions,1988), in the serious afterward essay “The modern relevance of Gnosticism(Gnostic reflection in the western art)” by Richard Smith, you will find lot of books mentioned,but there’s one and only film The Man Who Fell To Earth is named as exposing the Gnostic myth !

“You are the stranger to this world” - the statement so strong not only in Gnosticism but in other movements of the Early Christianity. There are more good studies on Gnosticism,like Hans Jonas book from the fifties “The Gnostic Religion”, that stresses the alien importance among the circles of Early Christianity movement. And nowadays there are research work and ideas by mythologist John Lash.

But, maybe it’s not necessary to compare The Man Who Fell To Earth with something else.

And the thing is that the film expresses all breathtaking truths about other realms so perfectly. You could jump to the other dimension by viewing it, but also it’s both a very “earthly” film.

It amazes,that The Man Who Fell To Earth uses no religious attributes and is a film of great Spirituality.

Let's view it one more time.

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