Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Man from Earth

The Man from Earth


The Man from Earth

The movie begins with Professor John Oldman (David Lee Smith) packing his belongings onto his truck, preparing to move to a new home. His colleagues show up to give him an impromptu farewell party: Harry (John Billingsley), a biologist; Edith (Ellen Crawford), a fellow professor and devout Christian; Dan (Tony Todd), an anthropologist; Sandy (Annika Peterson), a historian who is in love with John; Dr. Will Gruber (Richard Riehle), a psychiatrist; Art (William Katt), an archaeologist; and his student Linda (Alexis Thorpe).
As John's colleagues continue to pressure him for the reason for his departure, John slowly, and somewhat reluctantly, reveals that he is a prehistoric "caveman" who has survived for more than 14,000 years. His colleagues refuse to believe his story. John continues his tale, stating that he was once a Sumerian for 2000 years, then a Babylonian under Hammurabi, then a disciple of Gautama Buddha. He claims to have known Christopher Columbus, Van Gogh, and other famous historical figures.
During the course of the conversation, John's colleagues question his story according to their specialties. For instance, Harry, the biologist, discusses the possibility of a human living for so long. Art, the archaeologist, questions John about events in prehistory; he exclaims that John's answers, though correct, could have come from any textbook.
The discussion turns to the topic of religion. John mentions that he is not a follower of a particular religion; though he does not necessarily believe in an omnipotent God, he does not discount the possibility of such a being's existence. John then reluctantly reveals that he was the inspiration for the Jesus story and "the one called Jesus", which leaves members of his audience, especially Edith, aghast and angry. Out of his hearing, they begin to talk about the possibility of John being mentally ill or high on drugs.
After this shocking revelation, emotions in the room run high. Edith begins crying, and Gruber sternly demands that John end his tale and give closure by admitting it was all a hoax, threatening him with the possibility of locking him up for observation. John apologizes to everyone and tells them that it was all just a story.
John's friends begin to leave. John apologizes to Harry and Edith, while Art and Linda depart without many parting words. When it is Dan's turn to say goodbye, his words hint that he believes John's story. After everyone but Dr. Gruber and Sandy has left, Dr. Gruber overhears John and Sandy's conversation, which suggests that the story was true after all. John mentions some of the pun pseudonyms he had used over the years, such as John Paley (as in Paleolithic) and John Savage. He also mentions another pseudonym, used over sixty years ago while a chemistry professor at Harvard: John Thomas Partee (as in John T. Party of Boston). This was the name of Gruber's father; upon hearing this, Gruber, shocked and over-excited at the sight of his ageless father, suffers a heart attack and dies. After Gruber's body is taken away, Sandy notes that John seems especially struck by his death. She realizes that it is the first time he has seen his grown child die. John wordlessly gets in his truck and drives away, as though to leave forever. Then he stops and looks at Sandy, apparently deciding to spend some time with her. The movie ends with Sandy getting into the truck.


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