Sunday, 9 February 2014


‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ is a favourite film of ours, and one of the scenes that is permanently glued to the inside of our skulls is when Thomas Jerome Newton (the cadaverous but quite brilliant David Bowie) is travelling through the American mid-west in the back of a limousine and looks out of the window to see that, somehow, the car has been spotted by a group of settlers from a hundred years previously. 

There is no explanation for this unsettling, green tinged time warp, and it passes almost instantaneously - as it reaches a certain point the limo disappears in a ball of blue light, then the gawping settlers do the same - presumably leaving an empty landscape. 

The interesting thing is not that Newton can see the settlers (he’s an alien, he has special powers), but that they can see him – and they, understandably, are pretty freaked out. So who is haunting who? Is this how ghosts happen: momentary temporal shifts from the past or future that leave indelible marks on the landscape? 

The idea of a ‘backwards haunting’ is an interesting one, i.e. the spectres are from the future rather than the past. In Nigel Kneale’s 1963 teleplay ‘The Road’, inhabitants of an 18th century village are disturbed by paranormal noises and visions they can’t understand, but we can recognise as psychic reverberations from the aftermath of a nuclear war that won't happen for another two hundred years. You’ll have to take our word for it on that one, though, as the BBC wiped it after transmission.


  1. The "What in creation....??" reaction of the people to the limo is similar to my own bafflement at the film first couple of times.

  2. There's a great haunting such as this in From Hell (the graphic novel, not the film)