Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Quiet Earth

The Quiet Earth; Science-fiction, New Zealand, 1985; D: Geoff Murphy, S: Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, Pete Smith

Scientist Zac Hobson wakes up one morning in his bed and with a shock concludes that he maybe the only remaining human on the world. The streets and houses are empty so he figures it must have a connection with his laboratory that underwent a mysterious atomic experiment. Isolated, Zac calls any surviving soul through the radio. He steals food from the supermarket and keeps loosing his sanity from loneliness. Then one day Joanne shows up in front of his door, who also survived, and they become a couple. They also discover another survivor, the Maori Api, but also that the Sun could explode. The laboratory undergoes the experiment again, but it gets blown up by Zac after Api slept with Joanne. Zac wakes up on a planet from which a rising Saturn (?) can be seen.

What would happen if one person would find out that he or she remained the only human being on Earth? "Quiet Earth", a cult adaptation of Craig Harrison's novel with the same title, is a small jewel of New Zealand cinema and Sci-fi genre, elaborating that idea which, just like thematically similar esoteric films "The Truman Show" and "Groundhog Day", based it's plot on just one changed element from our everyday life. The main hero Zac at first can't believe what's going on so he walks the empty streets in his town and calls for any surviving human through the radio. Due to loneliness - which is the key motive of the story - he starts talking with himself, living in a "abandoned" fancy mansion, "stealing" food from a store, wearing a dress, walking naked and breaking hoses. He goes so far he even shoots at the statue of Jesus Christ! In portraying such an excruciating, powerful state of depression, the movie is excellent in the first half - but when he actually finds someone else alive, the girl Joanne, the atmosphere deflates itself a lot, mostly because the authors didn't find a way to be faithful to the original concept of just one person in the entire film. They movie couple ends up like Adam and Eve, while the third character, Api, really becomes the "third wheel" of the movie, together with a few annoying pseudo philosophical details at the end. The final scene where Zac is on a planet from which Saturn (?) can be seen over the horizon is mysterious, but also gives a few clever messages about absolute freedom and it's consequences.


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