The Brother from Another Planet

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The Brother from Another Planet
Brofromotherplanet.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Sayles
Produced by Peggy Rajski
Maggie Renzi
Screenplay by John Sayles
Starring Joe Morton
Darryl Edwards
Steve James
Bill Cobbs
David Strathairn
Music by Mason Daring
John Sayles
Denzil Botus
Cinematography Ernest R. Dickerson
Edited by John Sayles
Distributed by Cinecom Pictures
Release dates
  • September 7, 1984 (1984-09-07) (United States)
Running time 104 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $350,000[2][3]
Box office over $4 million[3]

The Brother from Another Planet is a 1984 science fiction film written, directed and edited by John Sayles. It stars Joe Morton as "The Brother", an alien and escaped slave who, while fleeing "Another Planet", has crash-landed and hides in Harlem.

Plot[edit]

The sweet-natured and honest Brother looks like an ordinary African American man, distinguished only by his being mute and - although other characters in the film never see them - his feet each have three large toes. The Brother has telekinetic powers but, unable to speak, he struggles to express himself and adjust to his new surroundings, including a stint in the Job Corps at a video arcade in Manhattan.

He is chased by two white Men in Black (David Strathairn and director Sayles himself); Sayles's twist on the Men in Black concept is that instead of government agents trying to cover up alien activity, Sayles's Men in Black are also aliens, out to re-capture "The Brother" and other escaped slaves and bring them back to their home planet.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Sayles describes this movie as being about the immigrant experience of assimilation.[4] He spent part of his MacArthur Fellows "genius" grant on the film, which cost $350,000 to produce.[2]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Variety called it "vastly amusing but progressively erratic" film structured as a "series of behavioral vignettes, [many of which] are genuinely delightful and inventive"; as it continues, the film "takes a rather unpleasant and, ultimately, confusing turn."[1] Vincent Canby called it a "nice, unsurprising shaggy-dog story that goes on far too long" but singled out "Joe Morton's sweet, wise, unaggressive performance."[5] Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "the movie finds countless opportunities for humorous scenes, most of them with a quiet little bite, a way of causing us to look at our society", noting that "by using a central character who cannot talk, [Sayles] is sometimes able to explore the kinds of scenes that haven't been possible since the death of silent film."[6]

The A.V. Club, in a 2003 review of the film's DVD release, says the film's superhero scenes are "often unintentionally silly, but again, Sayles shapes a catchy premise into a subtler piece, using Morton's 'alien' status as a way of asking who deserves to be called an outsider in a country born of outsiders"; commenting on the DVD, they note its "marvelous" audio commentary track by Sayles, "who moves fluidly from behind-the-scenes anecdotes to useful technical tips to unpretentious dissections of his own themes."[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Variety Staff (December 31, 1983). "The Brother From Another Planet". Variety. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  2. ^ a b Richard Corliss (October 1, 1984). "Blues for Black Actors". Time. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  3. ^ a b Gerry Molyneaux, "John Sayles, Renaissance Books, 2000 p 135
  4. ^ Jawetz, Gil (June 6, 2002). "The Return of The Brother From Another Planet: The John Sayles Interview". DVDtalk.com. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  5. ^ Vincent Canby (September 14, 1984). "Sayles's Brother". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  6. ^ Roger Ebert (January 1, 1984). "The Brother From Another Planet". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  7. ^ Noel Murray (October 14, 2003). "Return Of The Secaucus 7 (DVD) / Men With Guns (DVD) / The Brother From Another Planet (DVD) / Lianna (DVD)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 

External links[edit]