If there’s anything that can really get me psyched for an upcoming film, it’s a killer premise. Even better if it’s a killer sci-fi premise; the recent release of Gravity being a great example (but I’ll get to that one when, not if, when, it gets added to the list). I’d known of The Quiet Earth for some time, but never bothered to watch it. Now, I’m not really sure why I waited so long. The Quiet Earth, directed by Geoff Murphy, is more than just an awesome sci-fi idea; it takes that idea and runs with it, exploring what could or might actually happen should the idea come to fruition.
I knew enough about the premise to want to go into this film as blind as possible; unusual for me, I know, but if you don’t know the premise, then allow me to explain. The film opens on a man, played by Bruno Lawrence, waking up in his bed, with no knowledge of the immediate proceedings. He soon discovers that all of the people, indeed, all other life on Earth, other than him, have simply disappeared; vanished right in the middle of whatever they were doing. As his memory returns, he realizes what has happened, and slowly begins to lose his sanity, and regain it, as he tries to survive as the last man on Earth. I recognize that it is my personal tastes that tell me that this alone should be interesting enough to make you want to watch it, but really; if that doesn’t seem interesting at all, I really couldn’t figure out what sort of premise, even for a film you’ve already seen and liked, would be interesting enough for you to check it out. Bruno Lawrence is the main star here; he was a surprise favorite from Murphy’s previous film Utu, and here he really gets to run with the central idea, and it is pretty damn good to watch. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the film, so I’ll just say that the technicals are adequate enough to convey the film’s ideas, but it’s the art direction that really makes this vision of a completely uninhabited world a reality on the screen. I don’t know what towns or cities Murphy used to film some sequences, but it must have been a logistical nightmare to try and make it seem like absolutely nobody was there; I’m sure Danny Boyle could empathize with trying to do the same in 28 Days Later.
Again, this is another case of my personal tastes toward a film outweighing what I think the average moviegoer will get out of this one. There may be some people who, watching Lawrence parade around the city taking advantage of his new autonomy and rigging a speaker system so he can address a crowd of cardboard cutouts from a balcony, would be bored out of their minds, because there’s no other people there. In my opinion, Lawrence handles being alone on the screen wonderfully, but that opinion may not be shared by everyone. Still, if I were to give this any lower of a rating, it wouldn’t reflect, at least partially, what I really thought of it or what I ended up getting out of it. This is just the type of film that, if anything can be called “my kind of film”, this would be. And it makes me want to look for other undiscovered gems like this one.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10