“The Man Who Fell to Earth”, on Paramount +: Chiwetel Ejiofor in the footsteps of David Bowie


In front of thousands of spectators on the verge of ecstasy, Faraday is about to announce the good news: the planet is saved. The first sequence of this new avatar of The Man Who Came From Elsewhere is also – more or less – the conclusion of the series. The elegant and self-confident man that we discover gives a messianic dimension to the assurance common to the leaders of multinational tech companies. He has obviously triumphed over the obstacles that men have placed in his interstellar path.

By choosing to start at the end, Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman, the creators of these ten episodes, take the risk of venting the mystery of this character whose origin is known anyway. The title is explicit, the series proceeds from both a classic of science fiction literature and a masterpiece of cinema. Novel by Walter Tevis published in 1963 (available in France under the title The man who fell from the sky, published by Gallmeister), a feature film by Nicolas Roeg, with David Bowie, released in 1976 (which can be found on the Mubi platform), The Man Who Fell to Earth has, for a long time, conquered its place in the imagination of those who have crossed its path.

On the brink of cataclysm

As you will have noticed, the alien in the series did not take his earthly name from the same physicist as the hero of the novel and the film. The latter was called Newton, that of 2022, Faraday. It is not a question here of telling the same story, but of prolonging it, of acclimatizing it to our time. The visitor no longer has the elegant strangeness of David Bowie, but the human thickness of Chiwetel Ejiofor (Twelve Years a Slave, in 2013). And, above all, the one who has come to Earth to seek the remedy for the water shortage which threatens Anthea, his home planet, discovers a world which, too, is on the verge of cataclysm.

The series spins the original metaphors of the novel, injecting into it both the anxieties and the fictional figures familiar in the 21st century.e century

By thus altering the postulate of the story, Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman open up possibilities to it which they make intelligent use of, spinning the original metaphors of Tevis’s novel, injecting into them both the anxieties and the fictional figures familiar in the 21st century.e century.

As in Roeg’s film, the alien’s capsule crashes in New Mexico. Naked, mastering neither the language nor the customs of the place, he quickly finds himself surrounded by hostile and armed humans. Faraday has come to carry out the mission that his predecessor, Thomas Jerome Newton, left unfinished, sidetracked by alcohol, television and the CIA. To achieve this, he needs the help of Justin Falls (Naomie Harris), a physicist ostracized from the scientific community, who lives in a marginal town in the state, but also to get in touch with Newton. This one will end, at the end of the first episode, by appearing under the features of Bill Nighy, who, to embody the extraterrestrial worn out by too long an exile, has made himself the head of the poet William Burroughs.

You have 42.84% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

“The Man Who Fell to Earth”, on Paramount +: Chiwetel Ejiofor in the footsteps of David Bowie