Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Man Who Fell

Wow; I hadn't realized how long it had been since I made a post. Chalk it up to gearing up for the coming new semester.

Last night, finished reading The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis(Official Site)[the novel at Amazon]. The novel is good, but it really picks up around chapter 5, after Newton reveals himself to Bryce.

I'd seen the Nicolas Roeg 1976 film on DVD a while back. To be honest, I was very impressed with the cinematography, but not very much so with the acting, and the dialogue wasn't great...not between Newton (the alien) and the humans--I understood that was supposed to be stilted, but between the humans. For instance:

There was a 1987 TV adaption, but to be honest, with all the changes, it had nothing to do with the original story (and seems to have much more to do with the recent update of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" with diamonds being used for money, and the parent/child trouble subplot, etc). There are rumors floating around the net of a new adaptation in the works. That doesn't surprise me at all, given the novel's blatant Green message (not saying that's a bad thing at all, just saying that the message is not in any way hidden). Remember that Newton, the Anthean, says to Bryce (once he's finally revealed himself):

"'Doctor Bryce,' Newton said, his face now unsmiling, 'we are a great deal wiser than you are. Believe me, we are much wiser than you may imagine. And we are certain beyond all reasonable doubt that your world will be an atomic rubble heap in nor more than thirty years, if you are left to yourselves.' He continued grimly, 'To tell you the truth, it dismays us greatly to see what you are about to do with such a beautiful, fertile world. We destroyed ours a long time ago, but we had so much less to begin with than you have here.' His voice now seemed agitated, his manner more intense. 'Do you realize that you will not only wreck your civilization, such as it is, and kill most of your people; but that you will also poison the fish in your rivers, the squirrels in your trees, the flocks of birds, the soil, the water? There are times when you seem, to us, like apes loose in a museum, carrying knives, slashing the canvases, breaking the statuary with hammers'" (Avon edition, pg. 140)

It seems to me that this particular notion, not caring as much for the humans as for the planet itself as a resource, was also very influential in the rewrite of "The Day..." . I think it's a fascinating twist on the concept of alien arriving on Earth in all 3 cases: They are coming (or are already here) but not to conquer humans. What They really want is our planet, our resources. In this way, the encounter no longer merely somewhat resembles contact narratives loosely based on European contacts with other nations/peoples, but now directly maps in such a way. Humans are placed in the position of being in the way of another race's sense of "manifest destiny," and must deal with that.

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