The Man from Earth
|The Man from Earth|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Schenkman|
|Written by||Jerome Bixby|
|Music by||Mark Hinton Stewart|
The Man from Earth is a 2007 American drama science fiction film written by Jerome Bixby and directed by Richard Schenkman. It stars David Lee Smith as John Oldman, the protagonist. The screenplay was conceived by Jerome Bixby in the early 1960s and completed on his deathbed in April 1998.
The screenplay mirrors similar concepts of longevity which Bixby had introduced in Requiem for Methuselah, a Star Trek episode he wrote which originally aired in 1969. The film gained recognition in part for being widely distributed through Internet peer-to-peer networks, which raised its profile. The film was later adapted by Schenkman into a stage play of the same name.
The plot focuses on "John Oldman", a departing university professor, who claims to be a Cro-Magnon (or Magdalenian caveman) who has secretly survived for more than 14,000 years. The entire film is set in and around Oldman's house during his farewell party and is composed almost entirely of dialogue. The plot advances through intellectual arguments between Oldman and his fellow faculty members.
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Professor John Oldman is 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, a biologist; Edith, an art history professor and devout Christian; Dan, an anthropologist; Sandy, a historian who is in (unrequited) love with John; Art, an archaeologist; and his younger student Linda.
As John's colleagues press him to explain the reason for his departure, he picks up from a reference to Magdalenian cultures by Dan and slowly, and somewhat reluctantly, reveals that he is a prehistoric caveman himself from that precise period. He states that he has lived for more than 14 millennia, and that he relocates every ten years to keep others from realizing that he does not age. He begins his tale under the guise of a possible science-fiction story, but eventually stops speaking in hypotheticals and begins answering questions from a first-person perspective. His colleagues refuse to believe his story but accept it as a working hypothesis in order to glean his true intentions. John relates he was a Sumerian for 2000 years, later a Babylonian, and eventually went East to become a disciple of the Buddha. He claims to have had a chance to sail with Columbus (admitting that at the time he still believed the earth was flat) and to have befriended Van Gogh (one of whose original paintings he apparently owns, a gift from the artist himself).
In the course of the conversation, each guest questions John's story based on knowledge from their own academic specialty. Harry struggles with how biology could allow for the possibility of a human being living for so long. Art, arguably the most skeptical of the group, questions prehistory. He exclaims that John's answers, although correct, could have come from any textbook; John rejoins that, like any human, his memory is imperfect and he only sees events from his own narrow, hence not omniscient, perspective. Dr. Will Gruber, a psychiatry professor who arrives at Art's request later that afternoon, questions if John feels guilt for outliving everyone he has ever known and loved. He then threatens John with a gun (later revealed to have been unloaded) before temporarily leaving. John then learns from Harry that Will's wife had died the previous day after a long illness.
The discussion veers to religion, and John mentions that he does not follow any. Even though he does not necessarily believe in an omnipotent God, he does not discount the possibility of such a being's existence. Pressed by the group, John reluctantly reveals that in trying to take the Buddha's teachings to the west, into the eastern Roman Empire, he became the inspiration for the Jesus story. After this revelation, emotions in the room run high. Edith (the representative "true believer" of the group) begins crying. Will demands that John end his tale and give the group a sense of closure by admitting it was all a hoax, and threatens to have John involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation should he refuse to do so. John appears to ruminate over his response before finally "confessing" to everyone that his story was a prank.
John's friends leave the party with various reactions: Edith is relieved; Harry and Dan indicate an open mind; Art never wants to see John again; Will still believes John needs professional help; Sandy and Linda clearly believe John. After everyone else but Will and Sandy have left, Will overhears John and Sandy's conversation, which suggests the story could be true after all. John mentions some of the pseudonyms he has used over the years, and Will realizes one was his father's name. He asks John questions that only a very close acquaintance could answer. When John answers them correctly, Will has an emotional breakdown, suffers a heart attack, and dies in their arms. After the body has been taken away, Sandy realizes that (if the story is true) this is the first time John has seen one of his grown children die. John wordlessly gets in his truck and starts to drive to an unknown destination. Having apparently reconsidered, he then stops and waits for Sandy, who walks over to the truck and departs with him.
In order of appearance:
The story is Jerome Bixby's last work, which he completed on his deathbed in April 1998. Bixby dictated the last of his screenplay to his son, screenwriter Emerson Bixby. After Jerome Bixby's death, the script was given to Richard Schenkman to direct on a budget of just US$200,000 (equivalent to $246,606 in 2019). The film was shot in 8 days after a week of rehearsals.
Release and marketing
The film screened at the San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival in July 2007, and premiered theatrically in Hemet, California, and Pitman, New Jersey, in October 2007. It was released on DVD in North America by Anchor Bay Entertainment on November 13, 2007, and became available for digital rental and sale at iTunes on September 22, 2009. It won the grand prize for Best Screenplay and first place for Best Feature at the Rhode Island Film Festival in August 2007.
Publicity through filesharing
In 2007, producer Eric D. Wilkinson publicly thanked users of BitTorrent who distributed the film without express permission, saying that it lifted the profile of the film far beyond the financier's expectations; he encouraged fans to purchase the DVD or donate.
The film has been nominated for and won numerous awards.
- 2007 – WINNER – 1st place – Best Screenplay - Rhode Island International Film Festival
- 2007 – WINNER – Grand Prize - Best Screenplay - Rhode Island International Film Festival
- 2008 – WINNER – Best Film – Montevideo Fantastic Film Festival of Uruguay
- 2008 – WINNER – Audience Choice Award Montevideo Fantastic Film Festival of Uruguay
- 2008 – WINNER – Best Director - Fantaspoa – International Fantastic Film Festival of Porto Alegre, Brazil
- 2008 – WINNER – 2ND place – Best Screenplay - Rio de Janeiro International Fantastic Film Festival (RioFan)
- 2008 – WINNER – Audience Award: Best Screenplay Film – Fixion-Sars Horror & Fantastic Film Festival of Santiago, Chile
- 2008 – WINNER – Jury Award: Best Screenplay – Fixion-Sars Horror & Fantastic Film Festival of Santiago, Chile
- 2008 – WINNER – Best SCI-FI Screenplay - International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, Phoenix, AZ
- 2008 – WINNER – Best Screenplay - Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre – Int'l Independent Horror, Fantasy & Bizarre, Argentina
- 2007 – Saturn Award nominee - Best DVD Release - The Man From Earth
- 2008 – WINNER – DVD Critics Award – Best Non-Theatrical Movie
All original music for the film was performed by Mark Hinton Stewart.
- "7th Symphony - 2nd Movement" - Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Lyrics by Richard Schenkman
- Music by Mark Hinton Stewart
- Performed by Mark Hinton Stewart and Chantelle Duncan
- Copyright - BDI Music LTD.
In 2012, Richard Schenkman adapted the film to a play, which received positive reviews.
In 2013, the theater play was staged in Greece.
This followed two previous attempts at producing sequels. A Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund a sequel named The Man From Earth II: Man From Earth Millennium was announced in September 2013, but it was not able to collect the minimum-required supporting by October 2013.
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- Movie producer from Newfield releases sci-fi film November 1, 2007 by Senitra Horbrook at Gloucester County Times.
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- The man from earth. Retrieved from https://www.athinorama.gr/theatre/performance/the_man_from_earth-10030474.html.
- "The Man From Earth: Holocene | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-09-06.
- Lowe, Alexander (2013-10-02). "The Man From Earth II: Man From Earth Millennium Launches Kickstarter Campaign". We Got This Covered. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- "The Man From Earth II: Man From Earth Millennium". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- Lowe, Alexander (2014-07-24). "Man From Earth: The Series Gets A Kickstarter Campaign". We Got This Covered. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- "Kickstarter campaign for Man from Earth the Series". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
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