Movie Review – The Man From Earth

Posted on by Dave

Starring: David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley, Ellen Crawford

Where to see it:  DVD, iTunes

For those of you that like alternative history/theory movies, and are open to the notion that everything you think you know and believe just might be a crock, look no further. The Man From Earth sets out to lure you into to what begins as one of those “yeah riiiight” flicks, and soon turns into much, much more. And when I say more, I mean deezamn!

The Man From Earth tells the tale of John Oldman (David Lee Smith), a college professor who has recently resigned from his position and is planning on moving away. His fellow colleagues plan a farewell weekend get-together at John’s cabin in the woods, where they plan on relaxing while swapping stories and memories. Once assembled, they pour a round of drinks and settle in for a night of good conversation and good company. John’s friends consist of Harry (a biologist), Edith (an art history professor and devout Christian), Dan (an anthropologist, played by Tony Todd…yep, the Candyman), Sandy (a historian and John’s girlfriend), Will (a psychiatrist), Art (an archaeologist), and Art’s former student and now girlfriend, Linda.

As the night begins, John’s colleagues insist that he tell them where he is going and what he is planning on doing, as we slowly figure out that this decision to leave was rather abrupt. Eventually conceding, John begins to reveal a secret about himself that is sure to test the friendships of everyone present, as well as to question the truthfulness of John himself. Reluctantly, John reveals that he is no ordinary man, but a prehistoric human, who has survived for over 14,000 years on Earth, evolving and adapting to new lands, languages, cultures, and technologies. John explains that at first, he himself did not realize what he was, until advances in science and history showed him that he was no ordinary human being, but a relic from an ancient time. John claims that throughout history, he has not only traveled the world, but has met and known many famous people, such as Christopher Colombus, the Buddah, and Vincent van Gogh. Naturally, John’s friends cast incredible doubt on his ‘stories’, disputing his supposed immortality, and stating that everything he is saying could have easily been researched in a history book. As the topic of religion comes up, John states that he had never subscribed to any of the world’s major religions, and through further explanation the movie begins to take an incredible turn, shaking the very fabric of the entire group and bringing into question the now seemingly real possibility that John is in fact who he says he is. Dan (Todd) is exceptional, and while incredibly angered by John’s seemingly fabricated stories, still continues to be intrigued at the same time, and demands more and more answers.

The Man From Earth was a total indie flick, filmed in 2007 for around 200 thousand. Richard Schenkman stated in later interviews that he and the producer wished to thank everyone in the internet community for file-sharing the movie, and although it was considered “piracy”, it had helped to spread the otherwise unknown film to a much wider audience. Schenkman has requested, however, that fans of the film at least eventually buy the DVD to show their support. The story is also written by the late Jerome Bixby, an acclaimed screenwriter for some of the early Star Trek and The Twilight Zone episodes of the 1960’s.

While nothing more than a dialogue-heavy drama, shot for the most part in just one room, The Man From Earth is an excellently paced, and thought-provoking film. While not earth shattering, the questions and assumptions raised and possibly answered will keep you thinking for a long while. Definitely worth a watch!

4.5 out of 5

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