Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Not The Man Who Fell From Earth, or Thoughts on The Man From Earth

John Oldman, played by David Lee Smith, who guest-starred on Star Trek: Voyager (this will become relevant) is an immortal 14,000 year old cave man in The Man From Earth (2007).  He invites some friends and has a long conversation about immortality, memory, self-awareness and religion in an isolated cabin before he leaves them to start a new life.  His friends struggle to accept a man they thought they knew who claims to have met Van Gogh and studied under the Buddha.
I do enjoy these one-room conversation stage plays where an entire world unfolds through dialogue and story telling.  It’s like a modern campfire story or a radio play; the filmmakers can explore any theme or genre they want without using special effects or makeup.  The actors simply tell you what has happened, and we as viewers become drawn into the dialogue and the room you are watching on the screen expands to include the entire theater.
There are two other Star Trek alumni among the cast, Tony Todd who was Kurn, the Second Son of Mogh and John Billingsley who you know as Dr. Phlox from the under-rated Star Trek: Enterprise (am I the only one who actually liked that theme song).  In fact, the entire movie plays like a Star Trek episode in street clothes, which is appropriate as the screenplay is by Jerome Bixby, a writer for the Original Series and the Twilight Zone.  In Requiem for Methuselah (1969) similar themes are explored as Kirk meets an alien who lived on earth as Da Vinci, Alexander the Great, Lazarus and Merlin.
Immortality is usually portrayed as a curse, and The Man From Earth is no different in this regard.  You trade the fear of death for the crushing reality of loneliness when you live forever.  Your perception of time would speed up until a decade would seem like a week, or a day.  Imagine watching someone age from a child to an old man in a day, like the Sphinx’s riddle.  It would be pointless to get to know someone under those circumstances.
Personally I prefer the Highlander scenario of fighting duels and gaining power, but then again, I love swords and the song by Queen.
Jerome Bixby also wrote It’s A Good Life (1966), the seminal Twilight Zone episode where a 6 year old boy controls an entire town with his mind, the Star Trek episode Mirror Mirror and Fantastic Voyage (1966).  So he created the Mirror Universe and got to meet Raquel Welch, I’d call that I life well lived.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.