Welcome to The 405 Film Club: a series of recommendations from musicians, filmmakers, producers, artists, writers and a million other "creatives". John Carpenter's Starman was recommended by ROOM8.

One of our all time favourite films and soundtracks is John Carpenter's 1984 film, Starman.

Before becoming The Dude (Lebowski), Jeff Bridges was The Alien, or Starman, an equally zen man from another planet. The set up: an alien falls to earth and ends up in the home of widow, Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen). Using the DNA from a lock of her dead husband's hair, he assumes the husband's form and forces Jenny to drive him to find his ship. If he doesn't get back home soon, he will die. Like ET before it, the film is about self discovery, where the human realizes its 'alienness', and the alien its humanity. It also shares common ground with a more recent film about an alien, Under the Skin, which dealt with the inescapable darkness in the hearts of all beings.

Throughout the film, Starman is misunderstood and hunted for being different. Like a teenage artist who gets picked on for not fitting in, hunters pummel him for rescuing a deer, and government officials track him mercilessly. "Welcome to planet earth," the disenchanted scientist says sarcastically to himself after observing the grim fate that government agents have planned for Starman upon capture. Jenny, who is initially scared, ultimately falls in love with him. She is an outsider too, a widow who had lost hope after the untimely death of her young husband. But the world fears the outsider and proves perilous to their love. "You were right, to be with me is not good for your health," Starman tells Jenny.

The film has a dream-like pace and Jack Nitzsche's score colours our perception the whole time, playing the third lead character. The main theme is one of the most emotional and memorable pieces of the golden age of synth scores, and a standout in cinematic history. It was composed and performed entirely on a Synclavier, one of the earliest digital synthesizers and samplers. Boasting one of the warmest digital sounds of all time, it is one of the instruments we are fortunate enough to use in ROOM8. Nitzsche's score dances between silence, ominous tension, and triumphant melodic beauty.

Starman is a deep film from a philosophical, musical, and emotional standpoint. It's a damning critique of human nature yet a celebration of outsider beauty. Towards the end, Bridges describes his alien world as one of perfection, unity, and homogeny, but says that Earth is more beautiful because of its imperfections, diversity, and physical pleasures. "Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst" he tells the scientist who has been hunting him, but now wants to leave alone. Like films as diverse as the new Planet of the Apes franchise, to the aforementioned Underneath the Skin, Starman makes us take a look at our own humanity through the eyes of the other species - the outsider, the alien. All the while, Jack Nitzsche's Synclavier score gets under our skin and make us appreciative of our favourite human pass time, music.


Stream ROOM8's 'No Hard Feelings' [ft. King Deco] here, and 'This Place Again' [ft. Polina] here.