Dreamy and also soporific, The guy Who dropped To planet is essentially around a spaceman comes to planet on a mission come rescue his drought-stricken planet, by the by make his fortune bringing brand-new technology to earth. The self-developing 35mm film seems charmingly old-fashioned now, but it’s about so much much more than that. It’s around apathy and corruption of the filthy rich. It’s about isolation and also loneliness. It’s around feeling like you don’t belong. There is other deliberately otherworldly around this film, and also it haunts whoever look at it. Top top his earth mission thomas Jerome Newman (played through David Bowie) gets distracted basically by sex and also alcohol compliments of Mary-Lou (excellently played by liquid Clark) who pours him his very first ever Gin and also Tonic and also gives the a an excellent seeing to. What start out as his chaste mission for water and also her innocent mission for love, corrupts them, the brand-new world siphoning away their innocence, causing a classic situation of identification crisis.
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Prior come filming The man Who dropped To Earth, David Bowie had actually been touring America to an excellent avail, winning over the us public and topping the charts through the album Young Americans, sealing his good name as an official, rock-star, legend (he had already conquered Britain through Ziggy years before). However, David was emotion a tiny fragile, having actually finally accomplished the success he was after, that was exhausted from all the touring, and also all the rock ‘n’ roll task that goes in addition to being a transatlantic superhero-musician in the mid-70’s. He provided up touring in ‘75 stating, “I’ve rocked my roll. That a boring dead end. There will be no much more rock ‘n’ roll records or tourism from me. The last thing I want to it is in is part useless fucking absent singer.” and it to be then the went ~ above to change things up a bit, and star in a function film The guy Who dropped To Earth.
Today I have the pleasure of talk to the two human being who are responsible because that David Bowie’s watch in The man Who fell To Earth. May Routh produced the beautiful costumes and also Martin Samuel is responsible for that red, chic shock that hair. Ns walk into Studio Canal HQ to be greeted by mar (Martin Samuel’s wife), if I’m wait we begin flicking v old contact sheets with 100’s of image of the cast and also crew on set. Liquid Clark recorded wincing top top camera while Martin lavishes her through hair spray. David Bowie sat peacefully through his little boy on his lap. These room evocative of family photos, mar tells stories of life on set back then and also it sounds like they were a sort-of makeshift family out there in the brand-new Mexico Desert. I’m dubbed in to accomplish May and Martin and a small scurry the butterflies access time me in the gut, these world are real artists and they have actually that waiting of strident self id yet both continue to be warm and approachable; this is what I uncovered out around what the was like to work-related on the iconic film…
Me: What were you doing before you got the call from the director to job-related on this film? What acquired his attention, exactly how did you obtain the gig?
Martin: it was at an early stage in mine career, I’d simply done Stardust through David Essex and also a film through a group dubbed The Slade, command by Richard Longcraine, I’d done bits and also bobs the advertising, a film through Tony Scott… mainly small English productions and hadn’t really travelled that much, and then got dubbed literally in the center of the night indigenous Linda DeVetta, the comprise artist (for TMWFTE), she to be in new Mexico and also wanted to discover out if ns was interested and of course ns jumped top top it. Was sent the script, speak to Nic (Roeg) and also within a week i was ~ above a plane and out.
May: I remained in the fashion market working together a fashion illustrator, I gave it increase in the 60’s and I went on to be an assistant come a costume designer. My 3rd job as an assistant I operated on a film referred to as The Three and also The four Musketeers (two films, 1973 & 1974 respectively) and also the costume designer Yvonne Blake asked me to go occupational with she in Spain, visited Spain, fell in love through the production designer Brian Eatwell, and then we both made decision to take trip to America and shot our luck there. We obtained to LA and we were just around starving as soon as Brian, that had functioned with Nic before on 2 jobs, actually gained this job. Yet once we acquired it, the still didn’t have the green light, so the thing is, it got to the state that ns was really panicked that us were walk to it is in in debtor’s court or something, then we obtained the phone call, “The deal’s to be done, the film will certainly be made through British Lion…” and also I thought I can’t believe this is happening, we’re not going to it is in deported, I just couldn’t get over the slim thing, and also of course it to be like, through David Bowie, ns was simply absolutely pulverised. That was just magic.
Me: May, The male Who dropped To earth is a Sci-Fi film however it’s relatively understated in the feeling that over there is just one an are suit, and also the remainder is chic lines and shapes. Is that due to the fact that David Bowie himself had actually such a distinctive physical look, or was the something the director enforced or was that your interpretation?
May: These space the kind of points that are virtually joint decisions, simply sitting down and also talking through. Obviously David Bowie had a very solid influence but also it was to job-related out what someone coming from one more planet, who had actually to look totally ordinary so the he didn’t stick out, choose a service man. Due to the fact that he’d come from another planet we placed up things favor he was weightless therefore he would more than likely bump into things so underneath his fit he’d be wearing safety clothing, like stunt pads and nearly medical equipment underneath, so the one time you watch him, not completely naked, however undressed in a medical chair he is wearing his underclothes. Whether anybody it s okay the reality that lock are an alleged to it is in protecting him, i don’t know, yet it (that subtext) was there. Obviously he was very thin, and we wanted to go v a look of English boy’s school, a simple look, and also the shirts that we got on the high street in Albuquerque come from Macy’s guys department since he wore a size 18 boys since he was so thin. His suits were made by a girl called Ola Hudson who’d functioned with David before, for this reason he was content v her make the yes, really suits, they were all made of silk, everything he wore to be soft so the apparel didn’t injure him.
Me: Martin, The shocking orange hair is iconic, where did that come from, what was the motivation for that?
Martin: The catalyst was David in as much as i was instructed prior to that he want that colour and also it to be a details brand, the knew the colour, a details colour by Schwarzkopf. So ns took a bunch of that stuff through me, and then us met the very first time as soon as I acquired there, we had actually a 2 hour session blending the colours, the blonde and also doing the hair cut. That was our an initial meeting and first collaboration. Nic come in and also loved the totality thing. He wanted to make certain the hair would never ever jump out from his neck, the cut would be so perfect, so I offered to reduced it every 3 work or so, come keep whatever in check. Nic to be absolutely obsessed, that if he was shooting a scene and also was shoot from the side that the hair couldn’t touch his collar. Ns was continuous on set grooming grooming grooming him. It is really just how the watch developed. The roots would come through and also we’d carry out the colour every 2 – 3 weeks. Nic was really fussy around hair for every the characters, specifically her (Mary Lou’s) particular progression the looks and also aging, she hair takes friend on a journey; she necessary wigs to be made. There to be a lot of running the totality department, every the characters, Buck Henry had a progression of 3 various hair lace appliances to representing the thinning the his hair, to show his ageing process. It was a very busy liven show.
May: But also the point is that David Bowie’s character grandfather Newton, actually stays precisely the same, he never ever ages, therefore you have actually to show that other civilization were ageing about him and also he always stayed perfect beautiful.
Martin: and of course there is the sequence v the alien special impacts make up and that was a firm who came in particularly to do that, v all the pieces and also appliances currently made. That was lugged in top top a bed asleep at 4 in the morning, he was so managed David, he retained himself sleep the entirety time they would certainly be working on his body, blanking the end all the stuff. It’s every terribly involved the edges and the plastics, the human body took so really long, the nails, nipples, ankles all of that, and also then we’d wake up him up and Linda would execute his facial do up, and also for that scene ns arranged his hair under a bald cap. And then he’d go to the loo and then have this every finished turn off (he gesticulates come his crotch).
Me: So the was like, no water for him that day.
Martin: No because he’d shooting for fairly a couple of hours and also not be able to go, to do so would produce so lot time lost on set.
Me: You never think of that as soon as you’re city hall a film.
May: ns think we did that for around a mainly or 5 work or something.
Me: i wondered did the new Mexico setup affect your choices? The fabrics you used? Or did the hair dry out?
May: It was shot in new Mexico yet actually the was supposed to be somewhere the was anonymous. Mountains, water, that was claimed to be the totality of America, he to be travelling. This one scene where he arrives in a limo from brand-new York and also the driver Tony Mascia ended up being in the film due to the fact that he to be his (David’s) really chauffer. And he actually wore his very own clothes since I had never watched three-piece polyester suits in maroon and different colours. I mean, they might stand increase on their own; they were creased and also stiff!
Martin: David had a large phobia about flying therefore Tony Macia drove him almost everywhere America, he had actually this Winnebago also that he would certainly live in… once David to be crossing America from new York come LA or wherever he would never ever fly. He had a totality thing about flying. And even when he still had that phobia, the told united state the story of how he take it his daughter come England he made the exemption that they would all fly, for this reason they flew and also broke his never flying rule. That was right near the finish of his life.
Me: therefore one an ext question, top top the album Low, the sheathe looks choose he just stepped turn off the collection (of TMWFTE). To be you involved in the shoot?
Martin: Yes ns was, yes…And then ns did the station to terminal tour, since he preserved that look because that those two albums and I travelled v him for perhaps a year… until Berlin, and also then the (David Bowie) said, ideal that’s it. “Cut the off!”
Just together Martin claimed “Cut that off,” as if she had actually some type of 6th sense, Zoe the press lady pops in to deliver the message that mine time is up.
As ns leave Mary, Martin’s wife, is relenten the terminal to station tour and how overwhelming it to be to look the end at the audience and also see every the fire red hair through bright white streaks staring up at the stage, emotion a sense of pride that her Martin was responsible for that look, the iconic look at that defined Bowie because that The guy Who dropped To Earth and also for 2 entirety albums after that.
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I leave Studio Canal HQ feeling overwhelmed by a sense of creative calm. These 2 tastemakers made over there mark back then, however they space not nostalgic, they are living in the now and also still doing their thing. It’s an inspiration.