My own vote for Human Specimen Most Likely to Have a Mysterious Mission on Earth is: Rodney Curtis, a.k.a. the Spiritual Wanderer. If you don’t regularly read his column, you should. This week, he did it again! As Editor of ReadTheSpirit, I take pride in having a pretty vast awareness of contemporary American books and films with spiritual themes.
But, I’d never heard of “Man from Earth” until the Wanderer wrote about it in his latest column. Of course, I had to see the movie right away, based on his recommendation, and: This is to say—it’s fascinating!
If you love the mind games behind science fiction more than the Hollywood special effects, you’ll love “Man from Earth.” This is “Big Chill” meets the “X-Files” as a circle of old friends gathers for a weekend at a remote cabin. One friend, a college professor, is about to move away—and he drops a bombshell on his friends: He’s moving away because he will never age and, soon, this odd physical condition will raise questions on campus. Why will he never age? Because he’s 14,000 years old. He’s one very smart, well-adapted cave man.
“I’m checkin’ for a hidden mike! Candid Camera?” says his scholar friend played by John Billingsly, a bespectacled actor who has played a long series of nerds over the past couple of decades.
Another colleague, played by one-time Hollywood heart-throb William Katz, quickly flips open his cell phone and calls for help. He moves off to a quiet corner and urgently whispers into the phone. “Yes, he’s fabricating this story! Oh, it’s crazy! Right. As soon as you can!”
What would you do if your best friend pulled this?
Well, around the offices of ReadTheSpirit, our own version of out-of-kilter observations about the meaning of life regularly come from the Spiritual Wanderer. Ever since Rodney Curtis posted that “Man from Earth” column this week, readers have been clicking over there in a steady stream—then presumably getting the film from Netflix or from Amazon. You can order the DVD of “Jerome Bixby’s The Man from Earth” for less than $9 from Amazon right now. It’s also available on Blu-ray for the same price, at the moment.
Oh, you may be wondering about that name Jerome Bixby—unless you’re a heavy-duty Sci Fi fan, that is. This feature film was a longtime labor of love for Bixby, who died in 1998. He was born in 1923, worked primarily as a writer in various formats and is most famous for his work that wound up in “Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek” episodes. He also wrote an early version of a story that later became a movie and novel, “Fantastic Voyage,” about scientists who shrink to micro size and travel inside a human body. For many years, Bixby toyed with this “Man from Earth” story until it finally was released as a feature film a decade after his death. Wherever Bixby is today—he’d be pleased.
Oh, yeah! One more thing: You’re probably wondering how much actual religion winds up in “Man from Earth.” A whole bunch! I won’t spoil the experience of the film, but we do wind up squarely in the midst of a mind-expanding religious debate.
Come aboard! Make a quick stop at Spiritual Wanderer and read about how Rodney found this film—and passed it along to us. If you’ve read this story to this point, then you’re probably the kind of reader who’ll enjoy the Wanderer on a regular basis.
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(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.)