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The Earthling
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Earthling More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Wise and moving (NOT cute); a film to treasure

Author: Eve Sander ( from Tokyo, Japan
5 February 2000

"Cute" he may have been, but Rick(y) Schroder -- before puberty -- was one of filmdom's most sensitive and skillful child performers. And William Holden, far from being one to "add to" a list of modern man-and-boy bonding stories, in this 1980 film virtually founded the category.

I've seen this excellent film three times -- always on late-nite TV. Leonard Maltin gives it two-and-a-half stars: "OK family drama." Yet, over half of its IMDB viewers rated it a 10. Why on earth hasn't it received wider public acclaim??!

At 62 (this was his next-to-last film), Holden looks like he really is terminally ill. The cockles of his heart never are warmed to the kid (that we can see, anyway).

He's bone-weary, making his painful way to the ruins of his long-deserted family home to die, But this squalling, spoiled, self-centered kid is stranded. The man would like to ignore him, but the boy's obvious vulnerability won't let him. And as his strength fails, he could use some help himself.

So they make their way, conjointly, to his dying-place. And on the way, he tries to teach the boy how to survive in the wilderness -- for the child will soon be utterly alone -- and reach civilization.

How and what he teaches him is fascinating -- both practical and subtle. He plunges the city-bred boy from pampered narcissism to basic verities and respect for life and Life. In turn, the child's unevadable need forces this bitter, used-up man to dredge up his humanity and, with his last energy, give it out; to do the right thing.

Both of them change and grow. And it's quietly beautiful. In a sense, this is a coming-of-age film with no age boundaries. Maybe it's a "coming-into-humanity" film. See it. And grasp again (or for the first time) the dignity and beauty that humanness can be.

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21 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

existentialist statement

Author: cryofan-2 from Houston Texas
21 January 2001

This is an "idea" film with a plot. It is deeply existentialist, and tries to drive home the point that we are alive and that this is beyond miraculous, that we must each make our way in this cold universe, ultimately dependent upon no one else. Through life is is hard, and we face death at the end, the struggle to survive is also deeply satisfying.

Holden's character Patrick Foley passes these concepts onto the boy played by Schroeder. The photography is magnificent; the acting is good. The script is incredible. A truly underrated movie.

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19 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

I don't know about Family film, but I truly loved this movie

Author: (ranger67) from Florida, US
18 April 2004

Most people I talk to perceive this as a bad or downbeat movie. And, yes I concur that it has a very sobering but uplifting point to make. I was 14 years old when I first saw this movie and I found it to be very telling. Most people can't seem to take care of themselves by the time they're in their late 20's, but here is a kid who through a very strict but realistic mentor not only learns to take care of himself, but to be totally responsible for himself. I find it quite refreshing to see a movie, or any other popular culture, advocating that young people not only can but should accept responsibility for themselves and their actions. We, as a culture, tend to treat all kids under the age of 18 as if they can't possibly understand or be responsible for the actions. Very sad! This story tries to shatter that image, and in my opinion, does a wonderful job at it while telling a tale that if focused on correctly can be a great inspiration to a young person today.

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A deeply spiritual and heart-touching film

Author: fyremawth from United States
27 September 2005

I'm rarely moved to comment on a movie, but the Earthling is one of my favorites. I like thought-provoking and heart-touching movies, this film aims right at my emotional core and gets me in the breadbasket.

It's not a family film in the Disney sense, but it's a true family film in the spiritual sense. Sometimes the happy ending teaches that life is hard, suffering has a cause and an end, and within us lies the answer to the cessation of suffering: We can endure and find happiness, so long as we remember to find love.

Holden's performance was right-on, playing the embittered but compassionate mentor to Shroeder's traumatized child. The cinematography was outstanding, the Australian landscape was full of color and the story line quite refreshing.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Becoming self-reliant in the Australian outback

Author: jotix100 from New York
30 June 2005

Australia's outback has never looked as beautiful and rugged as in this 1980 film directed by Peter Conlinson. This Australian-American co-production shows the country as perhaps we have never seen it before. We are given a luxury tour of some of what appears to be an extremely wild area that hasn't been spoiled by man yet.

The story centers around Patrick Foley, a man that is dying. He has returned to the land where his parents settled, perhaps to die there as well. Of course, we don't have a clue about this until almost the last sequence, although we get hints about what's wrong with Patrick throughout the film.

We also are introduced to the Daleys that are seen vacationing in Australia. We see them crossing paths with Foley, only briefly, at a country store. When a freaky accident takes the lives of Shawn's parents, he is left alone to find his way back to civilization. Little does Shawn know that Foley has observed the accident, but he wants to stay away from the young boy. After all, he has his own problems, why bother to take on another?

Shawn decides to follow Foley, who shows him how to do things he normally wouldn't have even dreamed of doing. In the process, the young boy becomes attached to the mysterious man. The long trek both take makes a man out of Shawn, as we realize he will be all right and will live to a productive life.

The surprise of the movie is William Holden, an actor at the end of his career. Mr. Holden gives an extraordinary effortless performance. Rick Shroder, then a young child actor makes a valuable contribution holding his own against the more experienced Mr. Holden.

"The Earthling" is a film that should be seen by young people, as they can learn how to face the reality that Shawn went through in his quest for survival a beautiful land that presented so many challenges to overcome.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Prophetic Ending for Holden

Author: yensid from Whiteville, N.C. USA
4 April 2000

While this wasn't William Holden's last film (S.O.B) was, it makes for a terrific and appropriate swan song. I first saw this movie in theaters as a college student and it really moved me. Schroder's performance is great but William Holden's show the skills of a consumate master. It's a film I now own and will share with my children someday when they can understand it. And the end title music is a keeper. It's a shame Maureen McGovern never put it on a CD.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Great outdoor film

Author: existenz-6 from Hollywood, CA
1 June 2001

In the tradition of great outdoor films like "Jeremiah Johnson" and "The Edge", this is an emotional film about human survival and love. Great performances by both actors, wonderful cinematography, and a really tight script make this improbably story believable. This can be a hard movie to find, but go to any good video store (not Blockbuster) and they should have it. It seems like nobody knows about this movie, but it is really one to catch on a Saturday afternoon.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

An very good movie for William Holden, one of his last.

Author: fortionat1 from United States
10 March 2005

This was on ShowTime or HBO a number of times in the early 80s when I saw it and whenever it was on I would stop down to watch it. Little Ricky Schroder is excellent at a young age and counters William Holden's maturity for an interesting balance of young and old. I'm not sure why the rating shows a 5.6 since over 60% of the votes for this film were over a 7 and the majority voted a 10. It is definitely worth a watch if you're a Holden fan like I am. While the premise seems unrealistic at first as we go through the movie we find there is much more to this than expected. I liked this movie for the outdoor scenery and the beautiful backwoods areas of Australia. If you get a chance to see this film, please do.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Good to learn Kids education

Author: mrafael from Mexico
13 January 2006

The production is poor, but the performances of the actors are excellent. You can feel the drama in each sense. A newer version or DVD will be appreciated. For Spanish talking people there are no subtitles or anything like that. Also the quality of the audio is poor. I am giving the best score, because is a clean movie for all the family, to teach them that you can succeed in the worst conditions. The film shows a boy (Rick), that is over protected by the parents. They died, so he is alone. Holden sees all the tragedy, but he has a few time (who has enough?)to show him how to survive, live and be good. You must see the film, it has a life lesson, not only for parents.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Earthling- a classic

Author: Venture456 from United States
6 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie from time to time as a kid on Sunday afternoons. It's a wonderful film with a heart-breaking ending. Fate brings a rough, way-faring loner and a young child lost in the wild outback together and the result is one hell of a story that is sure to touch the viewers emotions. William Holden's character is aged and wants to trek to his father's remote cabin to live out his final days. Along the way he stumbles into Schroeder's character who's parents recently had an accident on their family vacation there in Australia, leaving the child abandoned and unable to survive. Soured by civilization, Holden is reluctant to aid the boy, who's determination to connect with the older man eventually gets through to Holden's compassionate heart of gold.

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