“Somewhere in the sky, possibly directly
Where he was looking, was his home planet of Anthea.
A cold place, dying, but one for which he could still
Be homesick; a place where there were people whom
He loved, people whom he would not see again for a
Very long time…”
– from the novel “The Man Who Fell To Earth“, by Walter Tevis
“…In Breughel’s ‘Icarus’, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”
— an excerpt from the poem “Musee des Beaux Arts”, by W.H. Auden
(inspired by the painting “The Fall of Icarus” by Peter Bruegel)
In 1975, when Screenwriter Paul Mayersberg and filmmaker Nicholas Roeg adapted Walter Tevis’ Science Fiction novel “The Man Who Fell To Earth” to the screen, they often deviated from the novel in order to bring out certain nuances to the characters.
There is one scene in particular, a small but beautiful little sequence that used both Auden’s poem and Bruegel’s painting to foreshadow the main character–an alien who has come to Earth in order to save his own planet from a devastating drought–and his noble but doomed attempt to design a spaceship that would be able to bring enough of Earth’s abundant water supply back to his own decimated world and rejuvenate it back to health.
I wish I had a clip to tie everything together, but unfortunately you’ll have to see the film. For me, it’s definitely worth checking out.