>what if…?

Posted on May 17, 2011

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for me, when it comes to sci-fi movies i like them cooked a certain way. much of the sci-fi movies that get released are aimed at people with adhd, they are big and shiny but rather empty within. you don’t have to look far to see what i mean, watch transformers for 20 minutes and it’s enough to send anyone into a twitchy fit!..
my introduction to the genre included classics such as star wars, mad max, close encounters, back to the future, the black hole, planet of the apes, westworld, invasion of the body snatchers, the fly and the like. I tended to veer towards sci-fi tv too with shows like doctor who, buck rogers, battlestar galactica, logan’s run, otherworld, the twilight zone, and of course the prisoner all moulding me and filling my mind with tales of wonder, danger, and adventure.
these days, in a world where there is rarely a movie made that doesn’t have cgi and 3d, the sci-fi genre has for the most part been swallowed up by whizz bang effects and audio and big greedy companies out to bleed as much money as possible from the unsuspecting public for utter twaddle. but there’s hope… occasionally you get a slice of fiction that really makes you think. 2001, moon, solaris, and even minority report fit into this drawer – as does ‘the man from earth’.
this movie is about a guy called john oldman who is getting ready to leave his town to start a new life. while packing his truck he is descended upon by a handful of work colleagues who plan to give him a little celebratory send off, and more urgently to figure out why he is suddenly leaving. he tells them that
he moves every 10 years or so when people begin to suspect him of not aging – he is in fact 14,000 years old.
so begins one of the best sci-fi movies i’ve seen in recent years. but this isn’t sci-fi of the inception or avatar kind. this is a slice of science fiction set in one room with no cgi or strange creatures or moving walls… just a roaring open fire, comfy chairs, wine, and 6 friends trying to work all this out.
this is psychological sci-fi. it’s a “what if…?” movie, and we get to see what these friends think of and ask mr oldman [love the choice of name]. they are all experts in their fields, biology, archaeology, religion, physchology, etc and all the questions they ask are the kind we would ask, and all the answers they get back, make complete sense. there’s no techno-babble, just real reasons as to how this caveman could actually be sharing the same air. they cover history and our perception and understanding of it, religion, and nature and how it works. everything about what we know and why we believe it is called into question.
this really is a true gem to watch.
it’s easy to miss a quiet diamond of a film like this in the shouty-ness [it’s a real word] of blockbuster movies, and it’s a big shame that most people will never have heard of ‘the man from earth’, but i for one owe a big thank you to a friend of mine for bringing this one to my attention.
trailer for the man from earth.
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