We ask the question: Does scifi work without a fast pace, no intense action and no CGI effects?
Man From Earth is said to have been completed by Jerome Bixby on his deathbed. He is probably best know for either of two things: a writer on the original Star Trek series, or the Twilight Zone episode (It’s A Good Life), which was adapted by Rod Serling.
This film is a narrative based on a Professor John Oldman (David Less Smith) who unexpectedly resigns from the local university. As is with a close knit community, his friends and colleagues go around to his house to get an explanation of his sudden decision to resign. They are perturbed as to why he didn’t let them know sooner and as to why there is no ‘leaving get-together’. So, loaded with food and beer, they turn up and start the friendly ‘interrogation’.
The film based almost entirely on dialogue, a group of people sitting on sofas, chairs, the hearth and the floor. The film stars Tony Todd (Dan), John Billingsley (Harry), Ellen Crawford (Edith), Annika Peterson (Sandy), William Katt (Art), Alexis Thorpe (Linda Murphy) and Richard Riehle (Dr. Will Gruber).
As the story unfolds, furniture is removed from Oldman’s living room, and that’s about as much action as you get. The conversation changes to a ‘what-if’ game, in which Oldman says what if he is a prehistoric man, and that he has lived for many years, he would surely have to move every ten years. People would age around him, whereas he himself would never age. The visitors attempt to pick holes in his story, but it soon becomes futile, in that his tale is as impossible to prove and verify as it is to disprove.
The film depends entirely on dialogue and story. It is a seriously engaging film, argueably a work of art - I was glued to the screen all the way through. Man From Earth is a thinking person’s film. So if you fancy a change from million mile an hour paced films, you should put this on your list.
A nod to Richard Shenkman for taking this project on and believing in it.
To pseudo quote: “It brings back dignity to science fiction.”