CSI Movie Review: The Man from Earth

Poster for the film The Man from Earth

The Man from Earth (Dir. Richard Schenkman, 2007) explores the idea of a 14,000-year-old “cave man” living throughout history until today. The plot centers on John Oldman (ahem), a university professor who claims that he is a Cro-Magnon who has survived for thousands of years. The film explores a variety of philosophical questions, and through deep discussion among several educated men and women, history is picked apart.

“The objective measure of a clock is another clock,” quips one character. History and all that we have come to know as truth – even in science – is ultimately subjective and susceptible to interpretation. That quote nicely wraps up the film’s central theme.

Aside from that intriguing idea, what truly made this film stand out to me was the exposition of the story. The entirety of the film takes place in and around the main character’s home. There are no flashbacks, action sequences, or anything you would expect from a science fiction film. The Man from Earth is storytelling in its most stripped-down, purest form, progressing only through conversation. This very low-budget film that truly asks you to use your imagination. I suppose that’s partly why it became so successful. It’s different, a bit unorthodox, but it works.

 

Digital Stardom through Peer-to-Peer Sharing

The Man from Earth was shared freely among Internet users, and the film was a surprise success largely because of this viral distribution. We tend to frown upon peer-to-peer file sharing sites, but the producer publicly recognized and thanked users of BitTorrent, even though they shared the film without express permission.

A few studies show that file sharing sites actually boost sales of music and movies, rather than decrease them. File sharing sites are a movie producer’s nightmare, but file share can frequently help to publicize and raise awareness for upcoming films. Distributers are partnering up with BitTorrent to encourage users to purchase movie tickets after watching “extended trailers” exclusively available for downloading.

 

The Science behind the Film

Our bodies are under reconstruction all the time. The eyes and the brain are basically the only body parts that stay the same throughout a lifetime. Every other body part regenerates over time; some take years, others only a few days. Damage to cells, however, can permanently hinder the body’s ability to renew itself. But now, Australian researchers believe that people will soon be able to regenerate damaged organs and body parts, like salamanders.

It has been proven that thought, either positive or negative can affect the body’s health. Harvard professor Ellen Langer performed a study that showed how people become younger by simply changing their state of mind. She recruited 100 people over the age of 70 and sent them on a ten-day vacation to a resort where she arranged the entire atmosphere to resemble the 1950s. The professor simply instructed the subjects to “act as if” they were back in the ‘50s. Physical and psychological tests were conducted on each subject before and after the ten days and in every test, the subjects tested younger. The only change was their way of thinking.

If aging is truly a disease, then the cure must be in the one organ that controls the entire body. “One century’s magic is another century’s science,” the film states. Sure enough, this idea has been proven again and again throughout history. A caveman living for 14,000 years and never aging – well, that sounds preposterous. Hundreds of years ago, the idea of the world being round was considered just as ridiculous. You never know what the future will bring forth next – or in this case, the past.

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