The Brother from Another Planet (1984)

R  |   |  Comedy, Sci-Fi  |  7 September 1984 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 4,475 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 21 critic

A mute alien with the appearance of a black human is chased by outer-space bounty hunters through the streets of Harlem.



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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rosanna Carter ...
West Indian Woman
Ray Ramirez ...
Hispanic Man
Yves Rene ...
Haitian Man
Peter Richardson ...
Islamic Man
Ginny Yang ...
Korean Shopkeeper
Leonard Jackson ...
Maggie Renzi ...
Noreen's Client
Minnie Gentry ...
Mrs. Brown
Bernice (as Ren Woods)


The Brother is an alien who has crash-landed on Earth, in New York City. While mute, strongly empathic, and able to fix things, he resembles a Black man with strange feet. His attempt to make a place for himself in Harlem is an allegory for the immigrant experience in the United States. Meanwhile, two bounty hunters from the Brother's home planet arrive and try to capture him. Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This illegal alien chose the New York streets over the men in black. See more »


Comedy | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some drug content and brief nudity | See all certifications »





Release Date:

7 September 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apo allon planiti  »

Box Office


$350,000 (estimated)


$3,700,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Sayles financed most of this movie himself. According to Wikipedia, "Sayles describes this movie as being about the immigrant experience of assimilation. He spent part of his MacArthur Fellows 'genius' grant on the film, which cost $350,000 to produce". See more »


After Little Earl takes off his band-aid, and The Brother heals his knee, the band-aid reappears where his cut was. See more »


Virgil: Nighttime is promise, brother. You make deals in the night. Pay all you've got for what you can't see and when sun come up. Illuminate: we been cheated again.
See more »


You Can't Get to Heaven from Here
Sung by Ravan Dessaline
By Mason Daring
Sweet Melodies Publishing/ASCAP
From the "Return Of The Secaucus 7" soundtrack (1977)
See more »

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User Reviews

Saw somethin' strange, watch your back, 'cause you never quite know where the M.I.B.s is at.
10 April 2013 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

A mute, three-toed, super-sensory humanoid (a fine performance from Joe Morton) arrives on Earth, appropriately landing near Ellis Island and taking up residence in Harlem, where his African American appearance helps him to blend in with the locals. The inquisitive alien sets about exploring his strange new environment, absorbing the unique sights and sounds of '80s New York with the help of his otherworldly sense of touch and his removable eyeball, but his journey of discovery is interrupted when he finds himself being hunted by two mysterious men in black...

Although writer/director/star John Sayles' strongly suggests that Morton's character is an escaped slave and makes references to class divide, racism and America's history of slavery, he ensures that The Brother From Another Planet doesn't ram a moralistic or political message down the viewer's throat, focusing instead on examining the human condition though the use of interesting characters, quirky dialogue and intriguing situations. The film is all the better for it—a somewhat bizarre but fun sci-fi adventure on the surface, but one that can be dissected, examined and discussed on a deeper level if so desired.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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