Cinematography Chair Anthony Richmond Remembers David Bowie from “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

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“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.” Over the span of sixty nine years, the recently deceased legend of music, art, film, theatre and pop culture, David Bowie was indeed as extraordinary as he set out to be. Always setting the trends and breaking the boundaries as an artist, the entertainment icon and pioneer of glam rock’s legacy will live on forever.

david bowie

David Bowie on set of “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

“He was a major, major artist,” said New York Film Academy Cinematography Chair, Anthony Richmond, who was Director of Photography on the Nicolas Roeg film The Man Who Fell to Earth, which starred Bowie as a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. “He just kept reinventing himself.”

The 1976 British sci-fi film, which was actually shot in New Mexico, was originally cast for Peter O’ Toole. However, those who know the movie—which maintains its strong cult following due to its use of surreal imagery and unforgettable Bowie performances—know that it wouldn’t be nearly the same without him. “I don’t think there was another person who could play that part,” said Richmond. “Bowie was a bit like an alien himself—bringing his own artistry to the film.”

The British film was Richmond’s first film in which he spent the entire shoot in America. While on set, Richmond and director Nicolas Roeg would play some of Bowie’s hits, especially “Young Americans,” which was one of his more recent songs that Richmond was quite fond of.

Bowie would spend almost eight hours each morning getting into his alien costume. In fact, it was Richmond’s wife at the time who spent all morning dolling up Bowie.

“Unlike most rock stars, Bowie was incredibly professional,” said Richmond, a man who is no stranger to working with rock legends. Richmond was responsible for photography on the seminal British music scene of the late 60’s. He shot The Rolling Stones classic, “Sympathy For The Devil” for Jean-Luc Godard, and then collaborated with Michael Lindsey Hogg on The Rolling Stones’ “Rock And Roll Circus” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” His other rock and roll credits include: The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright,” as well as the Documentary “Glastonbury Fayre.”

bowie and richmond

David Bowie, Nicolas Roeg and Anthony Richmond

Like most of us, Richmond was a huge fan of Bowie’s work and would frequently see him in concert and listen to his music whenever he could.

“I was deeply saddened when I read the news this morning. We lost one of the most extraordinary artists of our time.”

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