Most of us have a list of movies that are among our very favorite lesser known films. These are the film we are constantly telling people about to try and get as many people to see it as possible. We claim this as a personal victory as movie lovers. I have many myself but one of my absolute favorites is The Man from Earth, which coincidentally has just been released in a new Special Edition.
Professor John Oldman (David Lee Smith) is packing up and moving on from his position at a local university, much to the dismay of his many friends and colleagues. A group of those colleagues show up at his house for an unexpected farewell party: Harry, a biologist (John Billingsley); Edith, a fellow professor and devout Christian (Ellen Crawford); Dan, an anthropologist (Tony Todd); and Sandy (Annika Peterson), a historian who is in love with John and Art Jenkins (William Katt), an archeologist, and his student Linda Murphy (Alexis Thorpe). As the celebration progresses John proposes an outrageous claim. That he is in fact a man from the Upper Paleolithic that has survived until the present day. The various educated friends begin a deluge of questions and propositions to try and disprove the possibility of John’s claim only to be countered with possible explanations at every opportunity. Can Oldman actually be the oldest man to ever walk the Earth?
The Man from Earth is extremely low budget. Filmed with a consumer grade MiniDV camera, picture quality is not what you will remember it for. But the brilliant story by writer Jerome Bixby, who wrote some intriguing sci fi for TV including an episode of The Twilight Zone and four episodes of Star Trek. Bixby’s story is immersive and utterly fascinating. It proposed an outrageous claim from a character and then examines what it would be like if it could actually be true. It is a dissection of history itself within the confines of science fiction and it is gripping. The cast all do great jobs with many TV and movie familiar faces including Candyman’s Tony Todd, The Greatest American Hero’s William Katt and John Billingsley, who has been in pretty much everything including Star Trek: Enterprise. And David Lee Smith does a great justice to playing the oldest man in history, playing the role with utter seriousness and genuine soul. If you like thought provoking storytelling and brilliant sci fi, check out The Man from Earth. Then tell all your friends.
The new special edition of The Man from Earth includes a much improved (as much as it can be) transfer of the film, an exhaustive feature length documentary on the making of the film, 2 audio commentaries, and tons of other special features. Very highly recommended.