I’d never heard of The Man From Earth before the Kickstarter campaign for its sequel came across my desk. At first, I thought I was reading about a follow-up to Nicolas Roeg’s sci-fi classic starring David Bowie. What surprised me more was that none of my FSR colleagues knew what it was, either. Yet this 2007 movie has a 7.9 rating on IMDb with nearly 82k votes. And not even enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to result in a score. The reason is that a lot of its fans discovered it through torrents, a fact that director Richard Schenkman and producer Eric D. Wilkinson admit they’re okay with considering the awareness and eventual success it brought to the film.
Wondering if the sequel, The Man From Earth II: Millennium, would be worth promoting in this column, I watched the original this week. It’s streaming on Netflix if you’re interested. Scripted by the late Jerome Bixby, who wrote favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek as well as the basis for Fantastic Voyage, The Man From Earth is thinking man’s science fiction about a professor who confesses to his friends from the university that he’s been alive since prehistoric times. The acting (from an ensemble including Tony Todd and Richard Riehle) and directing is a little cheesy and given the single setting and all-talk narrative it seems better suited to be a short story or a play (it actually has now been adapted to the stage) rather than a movie — think Pal’s The Time Machine if he never cut away to actually show us the story Rod Taylor is telling his dinner guests — but I couldn’t stop watching. I presume that’s a common experience.
Now I’m definitely curious to see a sequel, though the original doesn’t exactly call for one. And of course Bixby’s been dead for 15 years so he can’t write another complex masterpiece of provocative ideas. Where could John Oldman (David Lee Smith) be when we meet him next? Is the subtitle a clue that we’re now another thousand years in the future? Will it be sorta Time Machine-esque in having him travel through disasters and wars and apocalypse, etc? The filmmakers aren’t sharing any spoilers, so fans can only speculate. It sure can’t just be a movie about his subsequent time to move on, because there wouldn’t be much to say with that, I don’t think. I guess we have to wait for the film to be made to find out.
If the film is made. I’m posting this rather late into the campaign, and The Man From Earth II: Millennium has only five more days to go. And they haven’t even raised 15% of their $175k goal. Maybe this won’t help enough with such short notice. But maybe they’ll re-launch after the initial bust and this will linger and influence readers to support at that time. Regardless, I’m interested in all of you checking out The Man From Earth on Netflix (or iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Instant, Google Play, XBox Live or DVD) and letting me what you think about it. Or, maybe you’re one of the millions who’ve already seen it and are a fan or not. Meanwhile, check out the sequel’s Kickstarter video below — though beware if you haven’t seen the original since there’s kind of a spoiler in it.
Do you want to see this film? Enough to help fund it?