The man from earth

At his goodbye party professor John Oldman surprises his friends by announcing that he is 14000 years old. No one believes him of course but they play along, under the pretense of science fiction, and have a debate “to kill the afternoon” . Could a man really be 14000 years old? What would he look like? Will he speak the same language as others? The man from earth starts with these intriguing questions. Enough to get the viewer deeply interested in the story. After all aging is a common ailment and everybody wants to live forever.

Professor Oldman’s guests are distinguished researchers in their own fields. Learned men and women who will argue on logic, will reason with facts and speak with clarity and conviction. This makes for a very interesting setting. On one hand you have the professor who is postulating that it is possible for a man to live for 14000 years on the other you have scientific people who are trying to refute the idea. The first question arises if it is actually possible for a man to live this long. The physiologist, Harry, states that it is in fact possible if humans could develop perfect regeneration of cells. He puts forward many scientific theories and some interesting facts like “The human body is built to actually last 190 years” which help to establish the credibility of his statements in the mind of the viewer.

This forms the basis of the story and once a starting point is established every body chips in with their ideas. They often question professor Oldman. “What was the landscape like?” “Were you ever struck with disease?” “Do you remember your father?” It seemed that he “had all the answers”. Over time the professor manages to convince his peers that he has actually lived for 14000 years. Quite naturally some of them don’t accept it and even get angry. Professor Art for instance thinks that John is mad and he needs professional help. But not one of them is able to disprove or contradict his story. Could it be true? Surely it is too fantastic to believe…

In the second half of the movie the focus shifts from scientific possibility to moral implications. What was such a man, assuming that he exists, supposed to do? John explains he never lives at a single place for more than 10 years as people tend to get suspicious of him. One of the guest remarks that he must have had several wives. While another questions if it is morally right for a man to live for so long when others about him are dying. During these questions John is most vulnerable. He does not have the answers that his friends seek. He does not know “the why” only that it is. This is incredibly exhausting for his guests since the one person they expect to have the answers does not have them. Throughout the movie the claims of John get bolder and bolder. He says that he had studied under Buddha. He calls the Buddha “An incredible man”. These claims challenge not only the guests but also the viewer.

The man from earth has little action. The entire 97 minutes are filmed on a single location and a large part of the movie takes place inside an empty room. Despite this The man from earth has one of the most engaging dialogues I have ever heard. I often hit the pause button to think about what was said. It is not an easy movie to watch however. Some things that John says may offend you. The idea that is being discussed is contrary to what we have observed over hundreds of years. And yet it is so well presented that it draws you in.

Not everyone will like The man from earth. A careful viewer might even find holes in the theories that are discussed. But the fact remains that the Man from earth is a very good science fiction story. It builds on existing facts that can be verified. It tackles an interesting subject that anyone can relate to. It presents all sides of the argument. All in all The man from earth makes for a very good watch.

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  • On April 04, 2014