40 user 28 critic

The Brother from Another Planet (1984)

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


John Sayles


John Sayles
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Morton ... The Brother
Rosanna Carter Rosanna Carter ... West Indian Woman
Ray Ramirez Ray Ramirez ... Hispanic Man
Yves Rene Yves Rene ... Haitian Man
Peter Richardson Peter Richardson ... Islamic Man
Ginny Yang Ginny Yang ... Korean Shopkeeper
Daryl Edwards ... Fly
Steve James ... Odell
Leonard Jackson ... Smokey
Bill Cobbs ... Walter
Maggie Renzi Maggie Renzi ... Noreen
Olga Merediz ... Noreen's Client
Tom Wright ... Sam
Minnie Gentry Minnie Gentry ... Mrs. Brown
Renn Woods ... 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


He's not just another out-of-towner. See more »


Comedy | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Did You Know?


One of a number of collaborations of John Sayles and David Strathairn. See more »


When the Brother is sitting in the bar for the first time, in shots of the boy playing the video game, a crew member's head can be seen intermittently between the back of the video game and the wall. See more »


Basketball Player: Funny-lookin' motherfucker, but he can shoot, can't he?
See more »


Burning My Heart Out
Sung by Renn Woods
By Mason Daring
Sweet Melodies Publishing/ASCAP
See more »

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 BA_HarrisonSee 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 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | Spanish

Release Date:

14 September 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Brother from Another Planet See more »


Box Office


$350,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed