The Man from Earth is one of the most unique and rewarding science fiction films of the 2000s, and it has none of the fancy things you'd expect from the genre. There are no aliens or robots or lasers or explosions or time travel or spaceships. In fact, there's not a single visual effect in the movie. Instead, The Man from Earth takes a single, seemingly simple sci-fi premise and explores it intellectually.
It's about a college professor who invites over a group of colleagues for a going-away party, and for fun he tells them he's actually been alive for thousands of years and the reason he has to leave his job is because he's been there too long and has to leave before people start to notice he doesn't age. Is he telling the truth? Is he just coming up with the premise of a book?
Richard Schenkman's film is a lovely, smart exploration of mankind's relationship with mortality, time and humanity, and it's made all the more poignant when you realize screenwriter Jerome Bixby (of classic Star Trek fame) wrote it on his deathbed. Even though I've been beating the drum for The Man from Earth to anyone who will listen since 2007, it's not a movie I ever felt needed a sequel. That's why I'm a bit surprised by the news that producer Eric D. Wilkinson, director Richard Schenkman and writer Emerson Bixby (Jerome's son) are trying to get one off the ground, but I'm no less intrigued by the prospect.
Despite being a bit of a cult hit, the first film wasn't a massive financial success. It was heavily pirated before it even hit DVD, but instead of fighting the leak, producer Wilkinson embraced it by thanking those who pirated the film for at least spreading the word about it. And now he's hoping that those same Internet-savvy folks who jumped all over the film the first time will do so this time, though perhaps they'll put up some money in the process. The Man from Earth II: Millennium launched yesterday as a Kickstarter project with a very modest budget and a pretty standard set of rewards for backers. You can get everything from a digital stream of the finished film to a signed poster of the original to an executive producer credit. What's interesting about that last perk, is that, unlike similar projects that offer an EP credit, Wilkinson actually wants any of the five people who claim it to give notes on the script and a rough cut of the film. That's kind of cool if you ask us.
So, if you're a fan of The Man from Earth, we implore you to see what the filmmakers have to say about the sequel. And if you haven't seen the first one yet, we highly, highly encourage you to check it out (it's currently streaming on Netflix).
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