The Brother from Another Planet
|The Brother from Another Planet|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Sayles|
|Produced by||Peggy Rajski
|Screenplay by||John Sayles|
|Music by||Mason Daring
|Cinematography||Ernest R. Dickerson|
|Edited by||John Sayles|
|Distributed by||Cinecom Pictures|
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||over $4 million|
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.
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.
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." 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." 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."
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."
- Variety Staff (December 31, 1983). "The Brother From Another Planet". Variety. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- Richard Corliss (October 1, 1984). "Blues for Black Actors". Time. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- Gerry Molyneaux, "John Sayles, Renaissance Books, 2000 p 135
- Jawetz, Gil (June 6, 2002). "The Return of The Brother From Another Planet: The John Sayles Interview". DVDtalk.com. Retrieved 2012-09-09.
- Vincent Canby (September 14, 1984). "Sayles's Brother". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- Roger Ebert (January 1, 1984). "The Brother From Another Planet". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- 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.
- The Brother from Another Planet at the Internet Movie Database
- The Brother from Another Planet at AllMovie
- The Brother from Another Planet film preview at YouTube