I have two ways that I add movies to my Netflix queue. One is that I read a review from someone who says that I must see such and such movie. The other is that I will just browse through Netflix’s library and throw on anything that looks like it could tickle my fancy. The Man From Earth falls into the second category.
I saw this synopsis:
John Oldman, a college professor who reveals to his colleagues that he’s actually a centuries-old caveman. And so begins a captivating philosophical meditation on immortality, the last work from screenwriter Bixby, who earned career accolades for his contributions to such genre-defining shows as “Star Trek” and “The Twilight Zone.”
This piqued my interest for many reasons. I have always enjoyed philosophy and any movie that explores these eternal questions can usually keep me very entertained. If you are of the same viewpoint, then I would recommend Waking Life, The Order and The Matrix Trilogy. I also am a huge Trekie/Treker, and anyone who wrote for Trek gets an automatic try in my book.
The Man From Earth was everything that I hoped it could be. The premise is that someone who has lived for 14,000 years is trying to convince five highly educated people that he is telling them the truth. Being highly educated, they do not want to believe something they know to be impossible. But they also have very insightful questions because they are finding that the answers they are hearing correspond with their knowledge of what is being discussed.
What I really like about this movie is that John Oldman (Old man. Get it?) is a normal person who just so happens to have been alive for 14,000 years. He does not have super strength, or intelligence or anything like that. He is a man. He just has never ceased to exist. When characters ask him where he was on a specific date and time in the past, he replies with where were you one year ago today? Our minds are not created in order to have a perfect memory. Sure, John has memories from his expansive life, but he does not remember every moment of it.
Or they ask him how he knows where he was or how long he has lived when things like geography and time were not thought up until long after John had already lived quite a bit of his life. John explains that he learned as he went and applied the concepts that he learned to the memories he had of the past. In other words, he remembered his experiences, but didn’t have proper names for things until they were given to him by others.
The Man From Earth is a thought provoking film. There is only one set, John’s cabin. Most of the film is these characters talking with each other. There are no flashbacks or action sequences. I found myself enthralled from the very beginning wondering to myself “Is he a caveman or not?” I will tell you that you know for sure by the end if John is telling the truth or not. But I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of getting there.
I know that this movie is not going to be for everyone. If you enjoy a movie where afterwards people want to discuss it, you will like this movie. If you loved the old Star Trek Original Series or The Next Generation where they had to solve problems with thought instead of phasers, you will like this movie. I give it two thumbs up.
Have you seen The Man From Earth? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.