The Brother from Another Planet

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The Brother from Another Planet
Brofromotherplanet.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Sayles
Produced byPeggy Rajski
Maggie Renzi
Screenplay byJohn Sayles
StarringJoe Morton
Darryl Edwards
Steve James
Bill Cobbs
David Strathairn
Music byMason Daring
John Sayles
Denzil Botus
CinematographyErnest R. Dickerson
Edited byJohn Sayles
Distributed byCinecom Pictures
Release date
  • September 7, 1984 (1984-09-07) (United States)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$350,000[2][3]
Box officeover $4 million[3]

The Brother from Another Planet is a 1984 low-budget science fiction film, written and directed by John Sayles and starring Joe Morton.

Plot[edit]

A mute space alien crash-lands his ship on Ellis Island. Other than his three-toed feet which he keeps covered, he resembles a black human man and manages to blend in with the people he encounters, engaging in lopsided conversations with various denizens of New York City. He displays the ability to heal the wounds of himself and others, as well as fix machines, by holding his hand over the affected area. He is secured housing through a new acquaintance at a Harlem bar. After fixing an arcade cabinet there, he soon lands a job as a technician. Two men in black, keen on the mute alien's whereabouts, begin to track the places and interrogate the people which he has visited. They seek to return him to the planet from which he escaped.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Director John Sayles has described The Brother from Another Planet as being about the immigrant experience of assimilation.[4] Extras from the film described it as "The Black E.T. movie."[5]

Sayles spent part of his MacArthur Fellows "genius" grant on the film, which cost $350,000 to produce.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Variety called The Brother from Another Planet a "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."[6] 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."[7]

The A.V. Club, in a 2003 review of the film's DVD release, said 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 noted 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."[8]

Paul Attanasio wrote: "Sayles is no storyteller; despite the verve of its language, The Brother From Another Planet eventually sags of its own weight. And all his movies are hampered by an almost shocking ignorance of filmmaking fundamentals -- he just doesn't know where to put his camera. The movie would have benefited from more attention to the bounty hunters, whose difficulties with Harlem culture would have balanced the Brother's strange ease of assimilation. Instead, the plot takes a centrifugal turn as the Brother roots out a scag baron whose drugs are poisoning the community."[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Variety Staff (December 31, 1983). "The Brother From Another Planet". Variety. Retrieved 2010-08-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Richard Corliss (October 1, 1984). "Blues for Black Actors". Time. Retrieved 2010-08-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/25/movies/john-sayles-is-secure-at-last.html
  6. ^ Vincent Canby (September 14, 1984). "Sayles's Brother". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Roger Ebert (January 1, 1984). "The Brother From Another Planet". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-08-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Attanasio, P. (1984, November 16) Listen to 'Brother'. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1984/11/16/listen-to-brother/500adab6-e900-4442-8471-f86ee9842552/

External links[edit]