"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Longevity

An old friend highly recommended this movie, and it's highly reviewed, but I was sorrily disappointed.

The Man from Earth was written by Jerome Bixby, a Star Trek and Twilight Zone writer.  I'm a big fan of both shows, but this just didn't work.  The ideas are all there, but it's horribly put together.  It's about a guy who's been alive for 14,000 years but hasn't aged past 35.  When he decides to tell his friends, they get really angry and upset.  One cries, and one tries to kill him.  Why are they so mad??    They're all professors at the same university (pretty much one of a each of a variety of disciplines which is a highly unlikely group in the first place), but only one of them is curious and excited by the idea.  The rest are upset to have their world shaken.  Maybe it's because I went through in philosophy and religion, but my general impression of most profs is that they're unquenchably curious and love a new idea.  None of them carried a gun - that I know of.

It's cool to contemplate what this kind of man this would be like, that he wouldn't be any smarter than the average guy living at the time - we can't advance beyond our time period, and there were a few concepts that were intriguing in the film, but this is nothing you couldn't get from reading a bit on ancient history or religion.  The attempt at witty banter is contrived and irritating, and the acting makes it feel like a bad made-for-TV drama.  It might work, however, as an after school special on a brief timeline of historical and religious epochs.  The only way I can understand the good reviews is that the reviewers haven't contemplated these ideas before - that the film is revelatory for them.

And of course someone alive that long has, by sheer luck, lived in the most important places on earth during the most pivotal periods and met (or was) all the big players.  The game starts when a colleague notices that he's got what looks like an original Van Gogh.  They were buddies!  I guess if he just hung out somewhere in Africa for the entire time it wouldn't be as interesting, but please.

I didn't mind that it was all dialogue and no action - I loved My Dinner with Andre.  I minded that the dialogue was so crappy.  If a bunch of intellectuals get together, we expect some more profoundly intelligent thoughts being espoused (in movies anyway), and much quicker banter.  A much more exciting movie on the same theme is Highlander (but just the first one - they get progressively worse).  It's got laughable dialogue and horrible acting ("Lots of different places!"), but that perfectly compliments the general cheesiness of the film, so it works.

Or read Wyndham's Trouble with Lichen.  Not to be confused with this....


James Bartozzi said...

I watched this movie yesterday night and I do totally agree with you. The relationship among those friends sounded false, falser than the protagonist story.

Snyder said...

Yes it was all very awkward and annoying.