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"What if a man from the Upper Paleolithic survived until the present day?"
The Man From Earth is 2007 film about a group of college professors (and a grad student) sitting together in a cabin during an intimate going-away party. They contemplate the plausibility of their departing professor friend's story: witnessing thousands of years of human progress first-hand.
The professor, who calls himself John Oldman, reveals that he's secretly 14,000 years old and a former caveman. The movie revolves around the characters dissecting John's claims about him being that old, and especially historical happenings and people he claims to have been at, met or even be. To make it all the more interesting, every character is a teacher at a certain subject that sooner or later is relevant or brought up (there's an archaeologist, a psychologist, a Christian literalist and a few more), and everyone deals with each new part of the story from John in different ways.
One of the most down-to-earth depictions of a seemingly immortal man in movie history.
The movie hit it big on BitTorrent sites in early November 2007. The director squealed with glee. This reaction was one of the earliest admissions by a film director or film producer that "illegal" downloads can be good for getting the word out for a work.
Pretty much every trope related to percieved immortality is brought up and discussed. It's very interesting for anyone that ever thought about immortality to watch. Do note though, that the movie is dialogue and nothing else. There's only one set, a bunch of characters and their interactions. And a marvelous script.
Tropes used in this work:
- Actually Not a Vampire: When John stopped aging, his tribe began to believe he was stealing their lifeforce, thus necessitating his need to move on every ten years to avoid arousing suspicion.
- The Ageless: John is not immune to illness, but since he survived so long and recovered from any injury (he dosn't scar) and illness, he seems to be truly ageless.
- Contemporary Caveman
- Conversed Trope - The backbone of the entire movie.
- Exposition of Immortality: This film is essentially, entirely about this trope. It consists of an immortal character telling people all about the things he's done, seen and experienced down the ages and their reactions to it. Oldman even lampshades this with his comment about people hanging onto objects from thousands of years ago being "absurd."
- The Fog of Ages - John only remembers "the ups and downs" and has forgotten most of his ancient life.
- He also mentions that he uses archaeology to try to understand aspects of his life that he's forgotten over time or to clarify why certain events he was witness to happened as they did.
- God Test - Most of the story is built upon his friends' attempts to give him one of these, which he explains that he cannot (or simply will not) do. Then he tells them that the whole story was only a story, and they go on their ways. He accidentally reveals himself to be Gruber's father at the end, thereby completing the God Test for nobody in particular.
- The Gump - John is Jesus, even though it's all pretty much a big misunderstanding.
- He also met Van Gogh and Buddha. But John also mentions that aside from those, it'd be incredibly difficult for him to know many histoical people, as he is just one man in one place at any given time, and he can't afford to attract too much attention to himself.
- Hey, It's That Guy! - Richard Riehle (Will Gruber) is one of the other villagers in The Inner Light, as well as Tom Smykowski in Office Space.
- William Katt (Art) was Ralph Hinckley.
- Ellen Crawford (Edith) was a nurse in ER called Lydia.
- Tony Todd (Dan) was Kurn, Worf's brother, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, an adult Jake Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and an alpha Hirogen in Star Trek: Voyager.
- John Billingsley (Harry) is Dr. Phlox in Star Trek: Enterprise.
- I Have Many Names - John naturally varied his name throughout history. Still, it's always been something similar to John.
- Immortality Immorality - Point 2 is discussed much within the movie.
- Also averted big time with John, already thousands of years old at the time, being incredibly inspired by the Buddha, eventually bringing his teachings, philosophies and ethics to Israel centuries later, and continuing to revere him in the present day.
- Luke, I Am Your Father - In the end what confirms that John wasn't lying when he claims he doesn't age was Gruber (who appears much older than John) realizing John is his father. The shock ends up giving Gruber a heart attack and he dies shortly after.
- Mayfly-December Romance - The relationship between Sandra, who appears to be in her 30's, and 14,000 year old John. This trope is explored fairly extensively, with references to various women John has loved and ultimately had to abandon - one of whom turns out to Dr. Will Gruber's mother, making John his father.
- No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus - averted.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Mostly averted. In his long lifetime, John has acquired ten advanced degrees, but he points out that, like any typical person, he can't keep up with the advances in that many fields, so his old degrees don't mean very much now.
- Really Fourteen Thousand Years Old - John looks 35, but is actually a good bit above just seven hundred.
- Shout-Out: The whole film strongly resembles the conversation from H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. It's quite fitting.
- And when Harry suggests John takes lab tests:
I'm leery of labs. Afraid I might go in and stay for a thousand years while cigarette-smoking men try to figure me out.
- There Is Another - John thinks that there have might have been another person who was immortal. He connected with him for a while in the 17th Century, and might have seen him out of the corner of his eye in a train station a couple of hundred years later.
- Time Abyss - 14,000 years is a really long time.
- Time Dissonance - Averted: The discussion is brought up, but John waves it away.
- Undead Tax Exemption - Averted: It becomes increasingly difficult for John to move around and not be caught. He even spent a year in jail for forging government records.
- Who Wants to Live Forever? - Subverted: John is quite satisfied with being really old.
- Unreliable Narrator - John starts out with the disclaimer that he is just pitching this for a science fiction novel. The group slowly learns to trust him, then all suspension of disbelief is shattered when John drops the J-Bomb. But by the end, the movie goes out of its way to confirm John's story.
- Unwanted False Faith