Nearly 50 years after its release, you could say audiences have started to warm up to The Man Who Fell to Earth, the David Bowie–starring sci-fi epic released at the end of Nicolas Roeg’s first decade of filmmaking which, to put it mildly, wasn’t nearly appreciated enough in its time (“A sick film made by sick people for sick people,” Roeg’s own distributor famously quipped of his subsequent movie, Bad Timing).
Following in the footsteps of Scott Weiland, Alberta Cross, and, yes, Guns ’n’ Roses, Mike Deni has taken influence from the nebulously parabolic film for the video accompanying his latest Geographer single, “I Don’t Remember Starting It.” Taking musical cues from the pop music of the decade that launched shortly after the film’s release, the single is a dramatic slice of storytelling in itself, while the video explicitly recreates a specific scene in The Man Who Fell to Earth. “This video probably looks like a guy dancing in front of a TV wall playing a ’90s art film, and it is!” Deni shares, before elucidating how it ties into the Bowie film. “The lyrics of the song are a sort of crazed instruction manual for how to live to the utmost absurdity within the bounds of what is considered normal. Every action I list is socially acceptable when accompanied by context, but utterly absurd on its own.”
He continues, “With images of Bowie’s alien blending—but never fully integrating—into society, a character started to crystallize in my mind of either an alien or a god. And this alien/god is observing humanity on his little TV screens and plugging the data into a device that then synthesizes a printout consisting of unintelligible answers to life’s mysteries, which he unceremoniously mails to some poor schmuck who is the protagonist of another song on the record.
“I don’t have the budget to make a feature film, and I don’t have the patience to write a book, so I try to get my ideas out in these music videos, and it is such a fun experience,” he adds. “My favorite part might have been filming the TV wall footage in my house. Just how ridiculous it must’ve looked to my fiancée, who was on the other side of the room trying to work while I made strange faces inches from the camera and held up my feet, and flexed my (such that it is) bicep. But yeah, even if none of that makes it through the YouTube screen, I hope that, at the very least, you enjoy me doing the most uninhibited dancing I’ve ever had captured on an SD card.”
Check out Deni’s moves below.