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The Man from Earth

The Man From Earth

Richard Schenkman

I recently had a chance to watch Richard Schenkman's The Man From Earth. Adapted from the late, great screenwriter Jerome Bixby's (The Twilight Zone, Fantastic Voyage) final work before he died. This film is about a professor that invites his colleagues over for a quiet evening of drinks and conversation on the eve of his departure from the region. Having taught at the college for 10 years, the professor feels it is time to move on to new experiences.

While chatting and relaxing, the professor poses a question to his peers, and then gives them the floor to debate the possibilities.

The question?

"Is it possible for a man from 14,000 years ago, a native of the Cro magnon era, to have survived until present day, and, if so, what would he be like?"

The group, comprised of a psychologist, a biologist, a Christian Scientist, and other scientific scholars, have some fun with the issue as they share hypothesis and counter-argument. That is, until the professor claims he actually is this man. What follows is an extremely compelling, interesting, and riveting discussion about whether or not this guy is crazy, deluded, or actually a 14,000 year old man. His story is iron clad, and the scholars have great difficulty stumping him, as he always has an immediate answer for whatever query they can think to pose.

It's a fascinating watch, and my gears are still turning, analyzing the concepts that were presented in the discussion.

Done on a miniscule budget, and shot in under a week, the film does have a couple of minor directorial issues, but they didn't bother me much, as the concepts were what mattered here. The cast is wonderful, chock full of lesser know, sometime B-movie talent like John Billingsley, William Katt, Tony Todd, and David Lee Smith as the would-be caveman. B-movie crew or not, they all turn in great performances, and the viewer can't help but feel like a part of their little dinner party.

Intimate, interesting, and in many ways profound, this little-known gem is one of the better cerebral pieces I have run across in a while. Bravo to all involved.