The Man from Earth (2007)
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But then I started to realize, there's something more about this movie. Like expressionism art, it should not be pretty visually. A discussion that actually the same thing that we could hear from podcasts, is amazing. This is not necessarily produced as a movie, I dont feel like watching this on a theater, I'd rather watch it on my laptop, so I could just rewind parts that I missed, but thats okay and turned out great.
Eventually, I bring something for me to hold, thoughts.
On the latter score the makers do as much as they can, as the "solid front" of clone-like colleagues rapidly disperses into displays from each of different emotions, different attitudes. Aggression, disbelief, mockery, cynicism, acceptance are all released, but above them all is the spirit of eager scientific inquiry and open-mindedness that OUGHT TO BE present in every academic. We of science do our jobs by hypothesis-testing and taking nothing for granted, nothing at face value. And here a cerebral script allows the most to be made of that desirable truth about academics.
Nevertheless, Ellen Crawford serves increasingly well as the uptight religious one (notwithstanding her academic side), while John Billingsley is there in his typical kindly+witty avuncular role. Then there is the coolly sarcastic hip one and his beautiful young girlfriend/student who represents the openness of youth, and then there is that ever-welcome player Tony Todd as the kindly, accepting, philsophical one. That leaves Richard Riehle as the psychiatrist who wants to help - but is also ultimately the most aggressive responder to the situation.
Together, this crew throw themselves at John from as many different angles as you can easily think of - not only scientific; and as the time passes this interaction gets richer and richer. Furthermore, it's not all between each individually and John, but also via a web of connections across the group, which makes things interesting. A few other plot twists creep in to further diversify the format.
The Ellen Crawford character wants to "switch off" at one key point, and there are many in the audience who will likely find themselves tempted to do likewise. I surprised myself by being in this group, thinking a step too far had been taken. But I plucked up the courage to come back to it, and don't regret it, as the film's best work is done after this point, and some worthwhile (if definitely somewhat uncomfortable) questions about religion are raised, in a very clever way.
Indeed, the film starts off looking stilted and rather faux-intellectual but definitely ends up looking like the real thing.
Did the actors get into what they were doing? Or is it an adjustment from the audience? Either way, it's fascinating how it happens.
Wherever you look in this film you will see the name Bixby, mostly - though not solely - Jerome Bixby. He's behind a shockingly unforgettable piece of sci fi from 1953 called "It's a Good Life", which sets an ENTIRELY different tone from "The Man from Earth". On the other hand, the idea used here got its first outing when Bixby wrote the "Requiem for Methusaleh" episode of the original "Star Trek", so anybody who's a fan of "ST:TOS" will recognise elements of this.
And sweetly, ST is referred to in the film, several of whose actors have also appeared in different manifestations of "Trek", so that's a pleasing side-effect for those in the know.
Main message: this is ultimately a far better quality film than you can imagine at the outset, so do stick with it...
Kudos to Jenkins and the team for bringing the book to life on the screen. Although shot on a small budget in virtually one location, it is of no import. The story and the way all the actors immersed into the story was the big sell.
I heard about the movie on some site, somewhere and was fascinated by the story and the method of distribution. Turns out that pirates made the this movie popular; popular enough to bring some money around to make a second. I have seen both and you'll have to read my review over there for the rest of the story.
I want to watch this again in about three months after I have fully digested it.
It has a very interesting concept and story line as well as some Actors you will have seen from MANY other projects, especially guest starring on TV shows, heavy on sci-fi.
The Lead is David Lee Smith who has been in a few things but popped up as Lt. Stetler on CSI:Miami towards the end of it's run. He is easily a "Go To" lead in my opinion.
Tony Todd whom I saw for the first time in the remake of "Night of the Living Dead" and who I think has been on nearly every Sci-Fi and Horror Show since the 90's and is a very solid actor is also on board.
John Billingsley, another actor in this movie that has a ton of work on his resume but I think is best known as Dr. Phlox on Star Trek:Enterprise.
Ellen Crawford who has been acting since I was a Senior in High School and is best known as Nurse Wright on ER.
Richard Riehle who is another one you will recognize instantly and probably has been on nearly every TV show ever made since the 70's lol.
A few other relative unknown actors who are surprisingly good and then of course.......
A personal favorite of mine as a youngster, "The Greatest American Hero" himself, MR. William Theodore Katt. I remember back in the mid 80's he saved me from being forced to watch what I thought was going to be a complete disaster of a movie on a first date with a young girl who I was VERY smitten with and I thought that the date would be equally disastrous as I really liked her but I didn't think the feeling was mutual. Then to find out she dragged me to a movie called, "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" at a theater with nasty popcorn, well, I was simply contemplating going to the bathroom for the 1 1/2 hours of the movie lol. As I was looking for the closest exit, Lo and Behold, I was in for several surprises that evening, first off, the Popcorn was still nasty, but I saw William Katt appear on the screen and with his quirky acting ability, he did not disappoint. And then the biggest surprise of them all, after about 5 minutes into the movie, the girl turned and looked at me and said, "Thank you very much for taking me to this movie, I really wanted to see it but none of my friends or family wanted to". Then she proceeded to lightly grab my chin, pulled my face to hers and gave me "THE KISS". You know, "the kiss" that made everything in your body, mind, and soul come alive and you just knew she was "The One".
Anyways, back to The Man from Earth. The movie was shot at basically one location which kills more movies than it helps. At that point, in order for a movie to "Make it", it needs to have a Strong Story, Acting, and Dialogue. Most movies like this fail miserably, but not this one. The story by Jeremy Bixby was SOLID. He had a small resume of some sci-fi show writing like Star Trek and others, but I believe this was his first ever stand alone "Book". Well, Mr. Bixby NAILED IT. Sadly he passed away in 1998 and never got to see his Book turned into this WONDERFUL movie.
The Directing is also pretty important and Richard Schenkman who had about a dozen Directorial projects under his belt when he took the helm of this project did a Bang Up job with it.
The Acting was Solid and what you would expect out of a mostly very experienced cast and the Dialogue was pretty decent with more High Points than low ones.
I don't know what the Budget was on this movie, I can't believe it was very much with most of it probably going to Cast and Crew, but when I see a movie like this, it shows that even a lower budget movie can have the look and feel of a Big Name Studio Flick with a Larger Budget.
I have seen this movie over 9 times during the course of the last 10 years and I am entertained every time. They recently came out with a Sequel to it, "The Man from Earth, Halocene" which I just watched and they are planning on hopefully a 3rd installment or better yet, making it into a series. There is so much and so many directions sequels and/or a series can explore with the Main Character, John Oldman. I have no doubt this franchise would end up becoming something many people would watch and become vested in. At the very least, it would end up with a large Cult following for sure.
I gave this movie a 9, something I rarely do. While it may not be as strong as some of the other movies I gave 9's to, it is just more than an 8. While not perfect (very few movies are), it has MANY more good things about it than bad and it is a movie that really makes you think "What If?"
Do yourself a favor, track this movie down and watch it. Then, watch it a second, third, and fourth time and you will really grow to love it.
Jerome Bixby did a very good job in executing his idea. The story began with curiosity and it lead to even more curiosity. Usually I expect the visuals to tell the story. But in this movie the visual storytelling didn't have that much of a relevance with the exception of the details. The movie was still captivating the spectator with the very realistic and pleasant dialogues. Also the simple characters make it possible for everyone to watch the movie.
And these roles were filled with delightful performances, especially David Lee Smith and Tony Todd made it so easy to understand the characters.
I hope those who still didn't watch the movie will give it a try. Because of the simple execution and because of less visuals as well it may be not the type of movie for everybody. But I guess you've got nothing to lose to just give it a try.
This sci-fi fantasy is one of my favorite films, but is really more of a conversation than a film. It explores various topics and ideas, and will keep you engaged and interested. As a film however (from a production standpoint), it's far from perfect.
The cinematography and direction are fine. The video and audio quality are just OK. The acting is a little shaky, sometimes distractingly. The music is serviceable, though isn't necessarily anything special. Overall, it's not very impressive from a technical angle. Considering the layers of inquiry central to the film, there's a lot more that could have been done from a directorial standpoint. To the director's credit though, the film holds up well considering the low budget and the fact that it takes place almost entirely in a single room. To most people that would seem pretty boring, but The Man from Earth manages to be both interesting and engaging, with no small amount of help from the screenplay. It's the writing that I love it for (in fact, it's actually been adapted into a play, which seems more fitting).
The Man from Earth was written by Jerome Bixby, who worked as a writer on both Star Trek and The Twilight Zone (two of the most influential sci-fi works in history), and what made those shows compelling is just as present in The Man from Earth. This film explores multiple ideas, but this time through a single conversation: what if a man could survive from the prehistoric era to modern day?
At first, that seems like kind of a silly question. It's actually where the "fantasy" in "sci- fi fantasy" comes in, but they take this concept a long way. This conversation is an introspective reflection on history—an exploration of perception itself. As we listen to the main character speak, we get a sense of how the time and space around him not only affect what he perceives, but how he perceives it. It's basically saying that our circumstances are not only what we perceive, but our circumstances shape how we perceive it. It's very cyclical, and endlessly fascinating—not unlike principles of language. It's the exploration of these subjects that help The Man from Earth classify not only sci-fi, but propel it to among the best the genre has to offer.
There are also some rather fascinating deconstructions on religion. This includes new how religions borrow from past religions, and successive denial of borrowing at all. It also explores how someone's view of religion would be shaped after seeing so many religions come and go. Between the themes of living (essentially) forever and coping with death, the thoughts over religion fit right in.
There's a subplot or two that feels unnecessary, but overall it's a very interesting movie, with a handful of quotable lines even. The Man from Earth: Holocene is coming up very soon, and though I'm VERY skeptical that this sequel is necessary (or could even be good), I'll give it a chance. (Also it's got Michael Dorn so whoooo!) I recommend this film to anyone who is a science-fiction fan, or just likes movies that make you think.
There are no fights. No chase scenes. There are no bad guys to hate. No monsters, no beams of light from the heavens.
It's a movie about ideas centering around what some may choose to see as the telling of a Tall Tale.
The action takes place almost entirely in one room and consists almost entirely of people's facial expressions. Like sitting around a campfire with a group of good friends listening to strange and impossible stories. Quite intimate - and in its way, intense.
But those who enjoy nitpicking and taking movies apart will certainly find some fodder. So too will those who are easily bored.
Those who are very faithful to their various religions will also find much to dislike here. The movie is quite humanistic, though not dismissive of religious belief.
I have watched this movie several times, and have enjoyed it each time. I feel myself drawn in every time. And I find myself thinking every time - even though I know what is going to happen.
Personally, I can't ask for much more in a movie.
Technically, I thought the acting was somewhere between "pretty good" and "so-so", but the story line and plot more than make up for any of its technical flaws. To be honest, I think thoughtful people would really like this movie even if it was only just people sitting around a table and reading from the script-- just because of the story it tells. Fortunately it does much more than that. But it isn't an action-thriller in any sense.
"I've done this before". One of the first things our protagonist says, is actually one of the key elements in the story. We begin following John Oldman (get it?) who after 10 years has decided to leave his position as a history professor at a local university and move. His colleagues however decide to send him off with a party. And this is when our story begins. John decides to do something he has never done before...to tell the truth about himself. So he explains that he is a man that never ages, a man that has lived for 140 centuries. Upon this revelation a cat and mouse game begins between the host and his guests. John narrates his life while the others try to disprove his sayings. Through this back and forth we travel through the history of mankind over the past few millennia, from the Cro-Magnon to the modern era. A journey that takes you through science, art, history, anthropology and religion.
At first, the film seems to go around the same topic: "Is John lying?". If you focus on this though, you have missed the point. The main message coming across is the sense of uncertainty that is present throughout the discussions. How can any of us be certain about anything? How can we function unless we take certain things for granted? More importantly, what happens when the things we have taken for granted are questioned? The guests' reactions to John's story, cover a wide range of emotions throughout the film. Indulging, disbelief, concern, curiosity, mockery and anger are all present and expressed in different ways.
During the discussions you are presented with various historical facts combined with the fact that knowledge of these facts does not constitute an answer to the ultimate question. The structure of the film prepares you from the very start for the possibility that you might not even get one. Yet in the end we see that even for a man who has allegedly lived this long there are still things he hasn't done before. In an effort to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible I will not go into lengths about what is being discussed, and I will only say that it is a chance to see an alternate interpretation of history. After all, as it is continuously repeated by the participants of this academic discussion, "Anything is possible".
The film does not feature a well known cast and performances are the obvious flaw one could find in it. With one exception; David Lee Smith as John Oldman. The silent and humble portrayal of Smith seems to be extremely fitting to the character and all he represents. He is a man that has known and experienced more than one could imagine and that has given him an inner peace that can be seen by his reactions during the conversation. He is, however, still a human and so when Dr. Gruber corners and directly attacks him, you can see the doubt and fear he has about his own nature come to the surface.
There is not much to say about the direction, but the score is very subtle and only present at times where it sets the mood without hindering the conversation. It augments the sense of mystery and always ties in very well with the topic at hand.
Bixby's excellent writing lights the fuse that can lead to endless possibilities for discussion after the end of the film. A man who spend his life writing cheap science fiction, finally managed on his deathbed to complete a screenplay that he first conceived in the 60s. The materialization of his idea about the true nature of man, that is the perfect mixture of open-mindedness and cynicism.
This proves that a great movie is not defined only by scenery and budged, but one could make a great movie with good actors and good plot.
Actors were excellent, plot was amazing.
A modern theater I would say, witch immerses you deeply.
This goes in to my top 10 list.
The whole movie are just conversations of professors, that I think it's very interesting... and many of interesting ideas were introduce in this movie.
for those who doesn't like it, probably some religious, and expecting highly CGs since this film is put in Sci-fi category. so, just try not to expect anything from this movie, be an open minded audience and run along... you'll have fun!
in some ways, this movie can becomes an inspiration or even a way into some possibilities
and remember this, art is something that cannot be measured with money. That's why an expensive movie not going to guarantee the quality of that movie.
and the example of that is this one, i think this movie maybe one of the most cheap that ever made, but in art it's something so high and powerful.
"enjoy the art :-)"
It all starts quite normally with an impromptu farewell party for Professor John Oldman by his colleagues. When pressed about the reason for his sudden departure, John makes some shocking revelations about himself leaving the people around both confused and amused. This makes way for an interesting conversation between them revealing aspects of John's life that are too hard to believe. The movie ends with a small twist which keeps you thinking for quite a while.
The 89 minute long movie takes place only around one house. It is heavy on dialogue but it is precise and well written. Though there is not much scope for acting, all the actors have done justice to their roles. But the real hero of this movie is the writer Jerome Bixby. He has done an excellent job in materializing his ideas. It may hurt the religious sentiments of some sections but that is completely dependent on the viewer. All in all, "The Man from Earth" is a must watch for all thinkers out there. Watch it with an open mind and you will never regret.
A little history about this film: Jerome Bixby, who was one of the writers for "The Twilight Zone", conceived the screenplay in the early 1960s, but did not complete until his death bed in 1998. The film gained recognition in part for being widely distributed through Internet peer- to-peer networks; its producer publicly thanked users of these networks for this. The film was later adapted by director Richard Schenkman into a stage play of the same name. In fact, I remember thinking what a great play this movie would make since the whole thing is dialogue that basically takes place in one setting.
The plot focuses on John Oldman (David Lee Smith), a departing university professor, who claims to be a Cro-Magnon (or Magdalenian caveman) that has somehow survived for more than 14,000 years. The entire film is set in and around Oldman's house during his farewell party and is composed almost entirely of dialogue. The plot advances through intellectual arguments between Oldman and his fellow faculty members.
*Possible SPOILER* If you are of a religious background, you will probably have some major problems with where the story ultimately treads, just to be warned.
I see that IGN (Imagine Games Network) referred to this movie as "Intellectual Sci-fi" and THAT is a brilliant way of looking at this... The cast is mostly made up of non-household names, but nevertheless a group of people you will probably recognize from various things here and there- besides Smith (who I remember from a few episodes of TV's "CSI: Miami"), John Billingsley, William Katt, Richard Riehle, Alexis Thorpe, Ellen Crawford and Tony Todd.