Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth


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It’s been two weeks since I came across this film and I still can’t get over the initial sense of exhilaration that followed my first viewing of what will most likely go down in history as a cult film. The film piqued my interest only because of the name Jerome Bixby attached to the title. So I sit down expecting nothing more than a shoddy treatment of a mildly intriguing premise. I was right about the treatment but the premise was far from just mildly intriguing.

John Oldman, a history professor holds an impromptu goodbye session along with a few of his colleagues who themselves are experts in the fields of archeology, anthropology, biology and Christian literature. He remains oddly secretive about reasons surrounding his sudden move but upon being prodded, he poses, what he calls a hypothetical question. What if a man from the upper paleolithic era continued to live till the present day?

What follows is the scholarly playfulness with the idea leading up to devastating realizations for everybody in the room. The film explores (at least tries to) reactions of people whose beliefs are challenged to extraordinary lengths. Discussions flit across anthropology, history, philosophy, death and religion. The conversations are highly stimulating although not overly intellectual. If I said anymore, I’d be giving away far too much. Think 12 Angry Men and a science fiction premise.

The film for most part doesn’t disappoint but sadly, there are flaws aplenty. Bad lighting, uninspired editing and a very conclusive ending. I would have preferred if the ending was more open ended allowing the viewer to make assumptions which would have made the experience a whole lot more interesting. But it’s unfair to nitpick here as it is quite obvious the film was shot on a shoestring budget.

Incidentally, the film is finding large audiences thanks to internet piracy. But like most films (Read Crash) that gain acclaim upon release, I have a feeling this film will become far too popular and  slowly audiences who loved the film initially will distance themselves from it. Anything too popular can never be cool can it?

The last time I was this excited about a conversation piece was when I watched the far superior Richard Linklater experiment, Tape.


7 Responses to “Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth”

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed or indie film. It was a labor of love for all involved.


    Eric D. Wilkinson

  2. I thought it was neat how the already sparse set got that much sparser when the moving men started taking parts of it away!

  3. 3 bApHoMEt

    If you could judge this movie for what it aspires to do within the constraints of a limited budget, and how much of the aspirations are fulfilled, then I would give it 10/10.

    But then again, you have to looks at it objectively. And because of it, I must reduce the score for its occasional bad acting, slightly jarring sound and it’s unfulfilled ambition to say too much. However, all in all, I’d give it an 8 on 10. And that makes it an awesome film in my book.

  4. Aaarrgghhh!!! I still can’t get over it! Been almost 6 hours….. And the more I think about it, the more it intrigues me. U know what, I’d always thought no movie ever based on a story like this could beat K-Pax. And this proves me so utterly wrong.
    But like u said, the conclusive ending leaves little room for speculation. Being open-ended would have preserved the same mysterious note on which it’d started. It’s like u could be right, u could be wrong.. u could believe in it, u couldn’t. It isn’t exactly free will but is it otherwise?
    Bad lighting? Well, I couldn’t exactly feel that, but even if it was there, it must’ve helped to make it all the more real. Editing needed some fine tuning for sure, for most of the things have been repeated. the characters go on the same topics over and over again and I think, it dwells a bit too much on religion than on history.
    But despite all the flaws, inspte of all the shortcomings, it still is a movie that can blow one away… may I add it to my list?? 😉

  5. @indisch You may very well add it to your list. It’s your list! 😐

    I do wish the ending was a bit more ambiguous…they could have opted for a little more subtlety…but then again, this doesn’t make the film any less good.

  6. 6 rd_robinson

    One of the very best movies that I have ever seen.

    Is it available in book?

    I will purchase the dvd.

    thank you rdr…

  7. 7 alaskadotnet

    Having now watched it twice in the last few months, as a long time science fiction buff, I find this movie a masterpiece.
    People long to believe in the unexplained; it fulfills a space in our soul. As a spiritual person, this movie took me on a exhilarating ride, that did not require special effects, and was more effective and thrilling because I experienced it in my minds eye…

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