• Review: The Man from Earth

    Man from Earth poster

    Director: Richard Schenkman
    Writer: Jerome Bixby
    Producers: Richard Schenkman, Eric D. Wilkinson
    Starring: David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley, William Katt, Ellen Crawford, Annika Peterson, Richard Riehle, Alexis Thorpe
    MPAA Rating: NR
    Running time: 87 min.



    So I was cleaning out my hard drive today and came upon a movie that I had yet to extract from a .rar file, The Man from Earth. I didn’t remember downloading it as I don’t usually download movies. I went to the IMDb profile and noticed it had a viewer score of about 8.5 with almost 6000 votes. With that high of a score, it’s pretty certain that the film is at least worth taking a look at. So I extracted the file this morning and began to watch.

    Right away, I could see that this was something small and low budget. I recognized several of the main characters immediately from low grade B movies (Office Space, 90′s version of Night of the Living Dead) to short lived sci-fi television shows (Enterprise, Great American Hero). The style and direction has the feel of being a made for TV type of movie. I’ve never been able to express exactly what that style or feel of a movie is, but I’m sure you get the feeling as well and know it when you see it. So now I’m thinking, “ok, this must be some low budget, indie film a director or PR rep wanted me to take a look at for some reason.” Then the story starts.

    Wow. The entire film takes place in a single room of a quiet cottage in a secluded area of somewhere (probably mid-west America). A man named John, of about 35 years of age, is preparing to move and his friends and colleagues unexpectedly show up to give him a send off. The man was trying to quietly leave and never look back and the mystery about why he might be trying to sneak away is just too much for his friends to bear, so they start to pressure John to spit out whatever is on his mind. Finally, after being pressed, John tells the truth. He was a cave man; as in, a real cave man; from the cro-magnan era. Needless to say his friends don’t believe him and there isn’t any way to really prove or disprove his story. So instead, we get a fantastic story in a question and answer format that gets ugly and argumentative at times and in others quite fascinating and even heartwarming.

    Scientific minds should love the film. As would anyone interested in religion, history or philosophy. It is fascinating as all get out and will leave you thinking about it for days (I assume, as I just finished the film ten minutes ago and already can’t wait to share it with the world). I’d rather not get into specifics because the movie is all about discussion and revelations. What might you ask a man who claims, pretty convincingly, that he has been alive for 14,000 years? This isn’t done in some sort of super natural or overly dramatic way. John is not a vampire. He has some scientific questions and answers as to why he claims what he claims. Who was your father? What was your name? Did you meet anyone famous? Can you die? What was it like living through the dark ages? The bubonic plague? Have you ever had children? The movie could almost literally never end with the questions that could be asked of John and he seems to have a believable answer for everything. Even if his answer is, “I don’t know.” But is John really telling the truth or is he just making all of this up as some sort of hoax or for another good reason? Or maybe he’s just nuts. All of this is pretty irrelevant. If I could sit down and talk with John, it really wouldn’t matter if I believe him, the stroies are FASCINATING.

    While I don’t want to unveil my top ten list of 2007 until the Cinecast next week, I can pretty much assure you that The Man from Earth has a real good shot of making the list. As I think on it, does it deserve five stars? From a technical and acting standpoint, probably not. But usually when I get this kind of mental reaction from a film and if I have to debate with myself on whether it should get 4.5 or 5 stars, I usually give the movie the benefit of the doubt and go with five stars unless there is a glaring reason why points should be deducted. In this case, while as I stated, the acting is mediocre and the budget was probably about $15, all of that is irrelevant to the story and the fantastic script. And so readers, what might be the last movie I’ll be watching in 2007, I cap the year off with my fourth and final five star rating for a film this year. The Man from Earth.

    (5/5)

    POST SCRIPT: I mentioned in the opening paragraph I downloaded the film. This really isn’t like me and after doing some research, I remember now that I had read somewhere or someone had told me (maybe Jay at filmjunk?) that the director and producers of this movie were actually encouraging people to download the movie to spread the word. So I did. The only thing they ask is that if you like the film, tell others and visit their official web site. I’m sorry I can’t provide the link of where I originally read this, but there are some posts in the IMDb discussion board about it and while I’m not comfotable providing links to .torrent sites or illegal downloading sites, I can provide you with a few useful links below. I highly encourage you to check this film out by any means possible.

    Links:
    Official Site
    IMDb profile
    MySpace Profile
    Blockbuster Online
    Netflix
    Amazon

40 Comments


  1. Rusty James says:

    five stars!!!

    Tony Todd's pretty good in it I guess.

    I remember him describing himself as cromagnon as well. But he places himself at only about 14 thousand years old. Oh well, I guess it's not important.

  2. Rusty James says:

    I didn't mean to come off as dismissive about Todd. He really is a great B-Movie actor. It's nice to see him doing something different.

  3. Andrew James says:

    I never knew his name before. I see him in stuff all thetime and always think, "hey! it's the guy from Night of the Living Dead… but not the original one."

    Five stars may be hasty, but damn it, I loved that movie. I'll watch it again for sure and probably soon.

  4. Mercurie says:

    I'll definitely have to check it out sometime.

  5. Rusty James says:

    Tony Todd is most famous for Candyman

  6. Kurt says:

    I thought Todd did a great job in Tom Savini's 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead (he was in the "Ben" role). He's great wherever he pops up, and he was one of the only remotely watchable things in Adam Green's Hatchet (he had about 1 minute of screen time).

  7. Jonathan says:

    I thought Todd was good in the Night of the Living Dead remake too. And Candyman is definitely what he's well known for, a flick which happens to be one I enjoy from loving it as a kid. I love talky movies though, especially ones dealing with questions about life and existence and all of that jazz. I'll check this out ASAP.

  8. Andrew James says:

    Yes Jonathan, you'll like this one. It's like a sci-fi version of "12 Angry Men."

  9. ". I want to say THANK YOU for supporting our independent film. It has been a labor of love for us for years and it's great to see posts like yours complimenting our film.

    If you can, please, head on over to our IMDb message board at:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0756683/board and post your wonderful comments. You can also "rate" the film and post a review.

    Check out our website at http://www.manfromearth.com and send us a "friend request" at http://www.myspace.com/manfromearth (if you have a myspace page).

    Thanks again.

    Sincerely,

    Eric D. Wilkinson

    Producer

    Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth

  10. John Allison says:

    I finally got around to picking this up a little while ago and while I think Andrew's rating is a bit high it still was a very good movie.

    The faults I see in the movie is that it feels the need to provide the answer to the question of whether he actually is immortal. I usually prefer movies to leave it up in the air. Secondly I thought the religion discussion dominated a bit too much of the conversation near the end.

    With those faults I still really enjoyed and ended up rating at a 4 out of 5.

  11. Marina Antunes says:

    This came in the mail last night and because of the short running time, I thought I'd throw it in.

    I was a bit concerned with the opening – it looked beautiful but the opening dialog seemed a bit stilted but once they got inside and the discussion really started, I couldn't look away. I love the various stories that come up and the mix of comedy and drama throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed it – great recommendation Andrew.

    And Todd is pretty awesome in "Candyman". That movie is messed up – in a good way.

  12. Kurt Halfyard says:

    I've got a real soft spot for Tony Todd in the Tom Savini remake of Night of the Living dead from 1990. He is really, really good in the Ben role.

  13. Andrew James says:

    Thanks for repeating that. ;)

    But yeah, I like the remake just as much as the original.

    See Man from Earth now. NOT a 5-star movie; don't know why I put that, but a great movie nonetheless for the scientific mind.

  14. Kurt Halfyard says:

    Hmmm, methinks I've nothing more to say *embarrassed*

  15. thomas vdp says:

    just saw the movie and thought it was amazing.

    It just makes you think about so many things.

    Maybe it did feel a bit low-budget but that kinda made the film charming.

  16. Dovla says:

    my friend who is a professor recomanded me to see this movie… He said that it is a low budget movie, but that it is fascinating one…

    So i just did… and the movie is very good… like someone from the uper posts said, not for 5 stars maybe, but for 4 sure :-)

    but i dont get one thing:the whole movie, we could think ok, he is doing this because he wants to say good bye on that way with his friends, and the movie could end up like that… and that would be a very low budget story… but at the very last part of the film, he shows that he is a father of that old guy (i am sorry for my not so well English – i am from Serbia, btw:-)… psychiatrist is the right word i guess…

    so the end of the movie is the part when u say:"hey, what if…?"

    nevermind, it's 4 o'clock in the morning, and i am tired to think straight… its a good movie…

  17. Jonathan B. says:

    I have no idea why I waited so long to watch this. I agree with everything said. A great concept, executed perfectly, with a minimal budget, no A-list actors – just a hell of a great script. I'm going out for some beers tonight and I'm going to try to stimulate conversation this entrancing with my buddies. Wish me luck!

  18. Andrew James says:

    Alright! Another convert. I watched the movie again back around Thanksgiving or Christmas. I watched it on that Thursday night with my sister and then again that Saturday for my mom to see. It just never gets old.

    Good luck in convincing your friends you are a cave man Jonathan. I already have doubt of that fact.

  19. rot says:

    I have this film on my computer still haven't watched it. I know this is the sort of thing I would like but I find it hard to watch films on my computer.

  20. john no really says:

    its has been 10 mins since i finished the movie and i just orderd 40 copies from a bulk movie website i intend to give it out to as many people as i can well i gess 40 lol 39 if i keep one myself lol but i just cant stop saying wow my mouth is open and and i just cant stop going wow im a sci fi kinda guy and this one hits home im glad it wasent flashy or over done a good movie is all on the basis of story telling and this is just that a story being told literally ty

  21. Mike Rot says:

    I am now halfway through the film so that is some kind of accomplishment. actually this will be my version of On the Road segment as I watch it on my ipod on my way to New York next week.

    So far I don't find it that amazing as everyone is claiming it to be but will see.

  22. Jonathan B. says:

    I just watched this again today and good god, Bixby's script is amazing. I'm going to start loaning this out to all of my friends.

  23. Chris says:

    Thanks for reviewing this! This movie is really good, and deserves more attention. I heard about it through word of mouth a couple of years ago, and bought it with some initial regret, because the case is so B movie.

    But when I actually put it in the player and watched it, I was pulled right in. I then bought a few more copies and gave them away.

  24. greg says:

    very enjoyable, thought provoking movie… the only flaw i saw was there is no way, in a room of that much intelligence, no one would ask mankind’s #1 curiosity – Are we alone?

    • Andrew James says:

      Greg – great observation and great question! But it kind of goes along with MY chief complaint of the film: it isn’t long enough! I could’ve sat in that room and listened to that guy talk for hours on end. There would be no limit the questions that could be asked. One of my favorite responses to a question:
      Were you a witness to the black plague?
      Yes.
      Was it horrible?
      More so than history records.

      Fucking great. I would like to know more!

  25. jshah says:

    Amazing film! Not often at all I see a movie like this… I saw it in 2008 and could not remember what it was at all until I searched it on the internet today. I knew it had ‘Earth’ in the title so that helped. But so happy I found it and rewatched it.. so refreshing.

  26. antho42 says:

    Kurt — watch this film. It is a must watch for science fiction lovers.

  27. Jonathan says:

    I have watched this four times since reading this review, Andrew, and I love it more every time.

  28. Bob says:

    I watched this movie about 4 months ago on Netflix, not sure how I found it, I think Netflix suggested it to me. Probably based on my love of sci-fi and time travel. I immediately watched it again & again & again. I was sure while I watched it that it was a screen adaptation of a play. It just had that feel for me. I found out it wasn’t but that it was available for the stage. I am just getting ready to open this show as director and it has been fun trying to recreate what they put on screen. I am also playing Art the Archaeologist.

    I hope our theatre audience comes away with the same feelings we got from watching the film.

    • Andrew James says:

      Wow Bob, that’s great. The stage play for this would be fun to see!

      I was excited to see you would be in Hutchinson as I might be able to attend. Then I realized it was Hutchinson, KS and not Hutchinson, MN. Ah well. Stop back in here and let us know how it went when you’re through.

      Break a leg!

  29. Matt Gamble says:

    The comments in this thread read like they are coming from six year olds who have yet to learn any sort of self-control.

    I loved it soooo much it made each day brighter with my warm rememberance of it, and each memory is better than the last!

    I watched it 87 times in a row with my family and friends and EVERYONE loved it as much as I did!

    I bought 122 copies and am handing them out to everyone, and they love it and me for it!

    I don’t know why I gave it 5 stars, that was too high and I don’t know what I was thinking, but it is one of the top ten films of the decade!

  30. Lava says:

    I’ve watched and rewatched this film for like 4 times already. Very fascinating indeed. The film gives me so many questions and thoughts. I can say that somehow i actually envy with John.

    I tried to donate at the film’s main page but don’t know why Paypal didn’t work.

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