Originally released in 1976, this was David Bowie’s first starring role in a feature movie. This movie got the full Criterion Collection treatment about nine years ago and is being re-released as a Collectors’ Edition following his recent passing.
In the film, Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from another planet who comes to Earth to take water back to his home planet that is suffering from a catastrophic drought. He comes prepared with documents that involve certain alien technologies that he uses to obtain valuable patents so he can start a major technology company to earn enough cash to build a return spaceship. He succeeds in earning the money he would need all while an Earthling woman, Mary-Lou, falls in love with him. He soon finds that humans on the whole are ruthless and greedy people.
1976, Color, Rated R, 2 Hrs 19 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark and Buck Henry
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Sex: Of Course
I put this movie on before checking the running time. It was much longer than I had anticipated and it was getting late but I stayed up and watched it all the way through. It is a fascinating film that held my attention quite well. The acting is first rate and the story is indeed unique. I also enjoyed the musical score very much.
Another fascination I have relates to the era. It strikes me as so very quaint to see how we lived before smart phones and the internet. People actually talked face to face. No, seriously.
Anyway, I highly recommend this movie – it is a must for any serious collection. This release may be the one you want as it is exhaustive in its treatment of the work. Be warned, though, this movie is quite erotic with lots of nudity so be sure the little ones are tucked away before you fire it up.
This released was reportedly sourced from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. I think it looked pretty good though I have read that the bit rates on the disc are on the low side for an HD presentation. Despite this, I didn’t see any grossly obvious compression artifacts though they may be there if I just looked more closely for them. My personal opinion was that the picture quality was very good considering the age of the film. There’s lots of film grain and the colors were stable. The black levels were solid if not blacker than black. The two negatives I noted had to do with blown out whites and suppressed detail in some scenes. All in all, though, the image quality was more than acceptable.
Unusually for a rerelease on Blu-ray, this movie is not offered with a surround track. It is just a plain old 2.0 stereo track, albeit in DTS-HD Master encoding. It sounds OK to me. The sound is dated of course, but it is decently preserved with a musical score that adds to all the excitement. My biggest issue was with the peaks being too high and the softer passages too low. I honestly wished that they had compressed the audio somewhat. I never thought I’d hear myself say that!
This is a three-disc set with the feature film and special features on the Blu-ray. The other two discs are DVD’s, one with just the feature and the other with just the features that were on the Blu-ray. This is a little bit of an oddity to say the least.
On-disc features include nine interviews of cast and crew. Some interviews were original from back in the day (e.g., Bowie’s was from 1977) and some are new. Many are accompanied by behind the scenes pictures, storyboards, concept art and music from the film.
The package also contains an 80-page color booklet, a poster and a series of color stills that are printed on nice card stock.