28 December 2014

THE QUIET EARTH

THE QUIET EARTH

German Title:
The Quiet Earth - Das letzte Experiment

New Zealand, 1985
Director: Geoff Murphy
(as Geoffrey Murphy)

8/10







According to the LA Daily News (quote on the cover of my copy), this is "quite simply the best science-fiction film of the 80s" which is utter rubbish because, as we all know, that's undoubtedly "The Blade Runner". Nevertheless, I'd say it's definitely one of the most fascinating sci-fi-related 80s movies, and also one of the best New Zealandian non-Peter-Jackson-movies of all time.

"The Quiet Earth" is the loose adaptation of
Craig Harrison
's 1981 novel of the same name, directed by Geoff Murphy - the man behind silly 90s action fodder like "Freejack" or "Under Siege 2", as well as the second unit director of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy!!! - based on a screenplay by Sam Pillsbury ("The Scarecrow"), Bruno Lawrence ("Smash Palace") and Bill Baer ("Bridge to Nowhere").


Slightly in the vein of classics like "The Last Man on Earth" or "The Omega Man", the movie follows a scientist who seems to be sole survivor of a failed global experiment that wiped out the entire mankind. He unsuccessfully tries to find any survivors and quickly starts to get completely bonkers, wearing women's clothes, declaring himself "President of this Quiet Earth" and "God", going on a rampage. Then, one day, he runs across another survivor, a woman, an encounter that changes everything...

It could have been a dull and uninteresting borefest, but thanks to Murphy's competent direction, "The Quiet Earh" ended up as compelling and somehow poetic post-apocalyptic drama about loneliness and madness, love and hate, guilt and atonement. The unthinkable scenario of being the last man on Earth was wonderfully illustrated by powerful symbolic images (playing Saxophone in the rain) and really unsettling scenes (standing on a balcony, talking like the Fuehrer to cardboard cut-uts of Hitler, Queen Elizabeth II or the Pope), delivering an intriguing portrayal of a man's breakdown.


In the second half when the scientist stumbles upon other survivors, the tone drastically changes, at times playful, at times depressing, illustrating an impossible love triangle, driven by desperation and confused emotions, always on the brink of destruction and dangerous envy. After an explosive climax, we get to see one of the most bizarre final scenes in history, a scene that has been discussed to death because it could mean everything and nothing. Whatever it means, it's an impressive and bafflingly beautiful scene.

The cinematography of James Bartle ("Death Warmed Up") is astonishing, lighting and editing are terrific, and the music by John Charles ("Utu", "Zombie Brigade") is simply amazing, especially the wonderful main theme. Acting-wise, we get fabulous performances by the great Bruno Lawrence (who died of lung cancer 10 years later), Alison Routledge (one of only 7 Imdb-listed movie performances) and Pete Smith ("The Piano", "Rapa Nui").


An excellent, thought-provoking sci-fi classic for fans of old-school science-fiction and dystopian cinema.

Wiki ~ Imdb

2 comments:

  1. I really like this movie - saw it on VHS back in the day - I had rented a pile of flicks - and remember all of them, I think - this, A Return to Salem's Lot, Deathstalker II, Wild Thing, and My Name is Nobody. It was a pretty good pile of movies!

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