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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Man From Earth

The Man From Earth

This past week has been full of homework (helping students with theirs and trying to get my own done), grading, and studying – on top of the other routine tasks needed to keep a household running smoothly.  I’m not sure how I’ve made it through every other week, but what I can say helped me make it through this last week, at least, was watching and discussing The Man From Earth in my classes. 

There are precious few movies that are worth spending class time to watch and The Man From Earth is one of them.  It starts out simply enough – just a group of professors gathering to wish a colleague goodbye – but over the span of its 87 minutes, the movie touches upon topics as deep as identity, religion, learning, and death.  What makes this movie so unique, besides its ability to inspire critical thinking, is what went into making it.

The screenplay was written by Jerome Bixby, famed writer of several episodes for Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, over a span of 30-some years and finally completed on his death bed in 1998.  Incredibly low budget, the film was shot using only 2 camcorders! It’s a true testament that quality products don’t need fanfare and fancy CG effects to be good.  The power of a dream and the will to make it real are enough to create something astounding. 

Unfortunately, determination alone will not bring publicity.  I’m forever indebted to a dear friend of mine for showing the movie to me when it first came out in 2007.   Without him, I don’t think I would have ever come across the movie.  The Man From Earth did gain quite a bit of internet notoriety when the producer publicly thanked file sharers for sharing pirated versions of the movie, making the film even more successful by an increase in popularity.  But even with all the online buzz surrounding it, I doubt I would have stumbled across this gem.

I use the movie to discuss the different parts of an essay and how they’re mirrored successfully in the movie.  I can see the film being used to study persuasion and teach rhetorical skills (see this blog post by Dosh Dosh for an example) .  In spite of all its pedagogical uses (or perhaps because of), the movie is an entertaining way to spend a little over an hour.  It’s the kind of movie that you’ll still be thinking about hours after seeing it. 

Whatever the reason for watching the movie, DO go out and rent it. You won’t be disappointed.  Don’t believe me? Read the 300+ reviews of it on IMDb.


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