In an age when films and television seek to hold our, supposedly ever shortening, attention-span with ever more doses of action and shocks and thrills, "The Man from Earth" succeeds in holding our completely rapt attention with something which is supposedly, utterly, out of fashion – conversation.
Also, this film became a classic not with any production house backing but by the most democratic popularity of all – word of mouth. In fact, in an extraordinary move, its producers have publicly thanked P2P networks for making this film a success
If someone told you that a whole film can be confined to just one room, having a handful of characters sitting and talking for the whole length of the movie, you might wonder who in their right sense would make a movie like this in this day and age, much less see it. "Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was a fluke, you may say…
It is here that your intuition might fail you. Because this will be perhaps one of the best movies that you will ever see. Not only will you be held in a complete grip throughout but at the end, you might realize that the best thrills that we get are not from high speed chases or a jump from a skyscraper, but from stimulating ideas – ideas that completely challenge what you think. Ideas, when presented by a skilled scriptwriter, can completely bowl you away. For don't be fooled, "The Man from Earth" is a roller coaster ride, from the starting scene to the end
Conceived originally in early 1960s by Jerome Bixby, of the Star Trek (original) fame and one of the best science fiction writers of all times, "The Man from Earth" was completed on his deathbed in 1998, making this his final work. Fans of science fiction will instantly recognize the imprint of the golden era of science fiction – which depended more on mind expanding ideas rather than on exotic unrelatable visuals
John Oldman is a departing university professor, who is thrown a farewell party by a handful of his colleagues, at his house. The departure is sudden and Oldman's colleagues want to know why he is in such a hurry to leave. Oldman is reluctant but under pressure, he begins to tell his extraordinary story. He begins by asking his colleagues to suppose a hypothetical situation, a possibility – what if a Cro-Magnon man survived to this day, thus living for 14000 years!!! That's the spark that sets this film alight.
Among Oldman's colleagues is an archaeologist, a biologist, an art historian and a devout Christian and a psychiatrist. When such a pantheon of minds is confronted with a fantastic idea as agelessness, the setting is perfect for a firefight – of words. And it does not disappoint. Each person has his own unique take on the situation and everyone fights a duel between believing this fantastic possibility and their own prejudices and beliefs. Its extraordinarily stimulating to hear the ideas that come forth. Everything is challenged – from history and the way we look at it, religion and what we believe, our ideas about our minds, our deep seated cultural beliefs. And tightly packed into ninety odd minutes, this is one long conversation that you wish will never end!! It is like a concoction of a high caffeine mixed with mind expanding drugs…
Slowly the utter shock at the onset is replaced by credulity followed by a grudging wonderment of the possibility. And then of course there is the dynamite climax. A climax that is as shattering as any Dan Brown could have dreamt of. And the way that this happens keeps you on the tenterhooks throughout. The script and the pace never slackens and as you are slowly drawn into the absorbing setting inside Oldman's house, the mood changes subtly as revelations and possibilities become even more fantastic and real at the same time.
Daylight is slowly replaced by flickering fireplace as the people inside the room face a life-changing dilemma – to overturn everything that they had believed in – about history, religion, beliefs, culture or to try and find a way to believe the whole story to be untrue. The struggle between letting the mind expand and staying within the comfort zone of common wisdom becomes fierce as the film rushes to the end.
This is one film that will make you hold your breath till the end by just talking to you.
Watch this!! That's the only thing I can say – you wont be disappointed even if your favourite movie till yesterday has been American Pie!!