The Quiet Earth (1985 New Zealand)

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The Quiet Earth (1985 New Zealand)

Post  BoG on Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:36 am


Directed by Geoff Murphy
A man named Zac (Lawrence) wakes up one morning in a motel room and soon finds out he is alone on this Earth - so it seems. As it happens, he is a scientist and his most recent work may have been responsible for this cosmic event. The audience has to come up with their own theories on this plot right from the get-go: perhaps Zac died in that motel room and this is his purgatory. Or, he is in the last few seconds of his life and the film's events are just what flashes through his brain. Or, it's all really happening - but what is reality anyway, eh?

I first saw this in a theater back in the mid-eighties and it quickly became one of my favorite science fiction films. I'm not as awed by it now, because I've seen it several times and seeing it on the big movie screen makes a difference. I think it's one of a very few sci-fi films which attempts a poetic visual approach towards a science fiction concept and actually succeeds to a great extent. This is also an end-of-the-world and last-man-on-Earth scenario which just ends up being better than all the others. One of these days I'd like to see a sci-fi film which literally sticks to the 'last man' concept all the way through to the end, but oh, well. Is there such a film? I don't think so.
Bruno Lawrence is very good as the central character who, after finding out he's all alone, rapidly moves through stages of insanity and periods as the wealthiest man, a cross-dresser pretending to be female, then dictator of Earth and, finally, knocking God himself off his/her pedestal as the new deity, before accepting his 'new' reality - as best as is possible. It's a fantastic study of the human condition, the human mind. Is he imagining his later two companions or are they as 'real' as he is?
As for the ending, I don't think the filmmakers themselves knew exactly what it all means. It's up to each individual watching to determine what the ending means - one of those. Has Zac moved into yet another dimension? Is he off Earth, on a moon of Saturn? Is he on an alternate Earth? Is he in the far future? Is he dead? No sequel, so we'll never really know. But, it was a very interesting, even fascinating sci-fi adventure. BoG's Score: 9 out of 10
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