So on a ramble through Amazon, I came across and watched the restored version of the intriguing 2007 film, The Man from Earth.
Simply put, it’s a film that centres on “College professors discussing many topics with a colleague who claims to be thousands of years old” – but that plot description really doesn’t do it any justice, whatsoever, in my view. In fact, given the film’s story is largely shot in just one location, with little to no “action” to speak of, the plot belies how good it is – a fascinating journey through history and a philosophical meditation on immortality.
Judging from many reviews, I’m not the only one surprised by how good it is, featuring a cast that includes David Lee Smith played the title role as the mysterious John Oldman and Annika Peterson as Sandy, alongside John Billingsley, Ellen Crawford, William Katt, Richard Riehle and Tony Todd.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. It was after all the work of writer Jerome Bixby, creator some of the most memorable moments of contemporary science fiction… including “It’s a Good Life”, for The Twilight Zone; “Mirror, Mirror“, “Day of the Dove” and “Requiem for Methuselah” for the original series Star Trek; and the classic SF film Fantastic Voyage.
In his long career, Jerome Bixby also authored numerous science fiction stories, including the novel Day of the Dove. His short stories appeared in Galaxy, If, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Worlds of Tomorrow.
Jerome first conceived the story for Man From Earth in the early 1960’s. It would come to be his last great work, finally completing it on his deathbed, in April 1998.
Given the setting, it’s no surprise the film has been adapted for the stage – available for license via Samuel French. If you simply want to read the script, you can buy a copy in any good book shop, or from amazon. The Hovey Players of Waltham have posted a rehearsal shoot of their version online.
A crowd funded sequel, The Man from Earth: Holocene, was released last in US cinemas last October, to mixed reviews.
Produced by Falling Sky Entertainement, The Man From Earth: Holocene continues the journey of Oldman, an immortal man of incomparable wisdom and experience while posing the provocative question… Is it science-fiction or science-fact?
It also has some Star Trek connections, including a role for Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation). Many of the original cast reprise their roles from the original film. There’s more on the plans for a series here on the original Kickstarter page.
This film was uploaded to The Pirate Bay in January 2018 by the creators themselves for completely legal download (a version that includes an appeal from the producers to visit the official site and donate there to its making).
Other partners include MovieSaints.com, where fans can pay to see it, and it’s also available to buy on Vimeo. A Blu-Ray release has just gone on sale in the US.
Trust me – that plot for the original might sound remarkably dull, but it really is worth a look.
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The Stage Play
• The Man from Earth stage play is available for license via Samuel French. If you simply want to read the script, you can buy a copy in any good book shop, or from amazon
• Origin Theatrical, in Australia, also have a stage version available