41 user 29 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


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 »

Did You Know?


This was not the first science-fiction film of writer-director John Sayles; he had written screenplays for Piranha (1978), Alligator (1980) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). See more »


In the scene where the Brother is brought in to fix video games, the woman there is playing Robotron, but the sound effects are from Galaga, not Robotron. See more »


Sam: [talking about The Brother] What am I supposed to do?
Fly: You the city, Sam. Figure out where to put him.
Sam: Men's shelter.
Smokey: Too smelly.
Sam: Okay. The Hilton. You got the tab?
Smokey: What they pay you for?
Sam: I just make phone calls. You want him out, you could call the cops.
Fly: Cops? Oh, man.
Smokey: He knew the death seat when he sat down on it.
Sam: It's not like I got to drum up more business for the city, you know?
See more »


Referenced in Destroy All Humans! 2 (2006) See more »


Sung by Efrain Salgado
By Frank London, Mason Daring and Efrain Salgado
Sweet Melodies Publishing/ASCAP
See more »

User Reviews

Odd, quiet and very watchable.
14 February 2008 | by davedee4See all my reviews

This is a very strange film to watch, but easy to do so despite the fact that the plot is only added to near the end of the film with the men in black. It's no masterpiece at all, not even on a low budget standard, but one thing that brings above a lot of other films is a great performance by Joe Morton as The Brother, not an easy role to do, but his mute performance is pulled off so charismatically, that we can't help but be drawn into to The Brother's adventures. The film is at times very witty, very clever and very charming. John Sayles (writer/director) did well at adding in just enough subtle comedy. Most of the way through, the film is not really a science fiction film, it just happens to contain an alien. If I were to hazard a guess at how Sayles came up with the idea of The Brother From Another Planet, I would assume he started with the idea of; what if everything was kind of new and unfamiliar to you, as if you were born again, he probably started with that and worked from there to form this delightful film. One down side is the ending, because; as I mentioned before, 80% of the film is not really science fiction like, but the ending is very much science fiction, but it doesn't spoil the picture too much.

I give this gem a firm 8/10.

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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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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