How acceptable is honesty when all that you believe in can be challenged and can be taken head on. ‘For the greater good’ can be a selfish term even though it may involve the fate of the masses, cause the greater good can only be defined by one and passed on. ‘The Man from Earth‘ is a powerful statement to these themes and continues to haunt me even as I blog.
Life and death may be two sides of the coin but there is a grey area mysteriously explored in ‘The Man from Earth‘. The film takes place in a living room (yes, all one and a half hours of it, except for a few outdoor shots right outside the living room). But hang on to every word, every expression, every exclamation and you are bound to be rooted to your seat without a cup of black coffee to keep you company,
The protagonist is John Oldman, a professor who is packing up and moving to an unknown destination. His colleagues, who include anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, historians and a psychiatrist stop by to say their final goodbyes when the professor breaks the news that he is actually a prehistoric caveman man who has been on earth for thousands of years. From here on the evening takes on a mysterious turn as the professors first jokingly and then with rising alarm quiz the professor about his past.
The conversation is turned on its head with some powerful revelations that shake the very foundation of the faith of the professors in their knowledge and culture. There are dark undertones to the conversation as it gets uncomfortable as the evening wears on and the professor keeps packing up his stuff as he prepares to leave. Never has a conversation in a movie been as gripping and stimulating and the script leaves you breathless as you wait for the next verbal intellectual bombshell to be thrown at you. Is it fact? Is it fiction? The mystery just gets deeper as darkness falls.
Based on a short story by Jerome Bixby, ‘The Man from Earth’ features an ensemble cast of faces you may have seen in passing in movies and television serials. David Lee Smith is the protagonist and plays the part to convincing perfection with the right level of subtlety. No melodrama, no shocking screeches… it’s a gentle but anxious approach to solve the riddle of Professor John Oldman’s life.
Is it worth speaking the truth when it supposedly defies logic? With an ending that reflects the smooth twists and turns that the conversation takes, this movie has a mortality rate that outlives its running time by a long long way. To top it all the song ‘Forever‘, written by the director Richard Schenkman, that plays at the end credits reflects the beauty of the landscape of the movie. This movie may have been an underdog when it compares to the big budget flicks, but it is a movie with a unique heart and a cryptic mind.