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the-quiet-earth

The Quiet Earth (1985 - R)

The trouble starts with a common villain, a government research project that causes an apocalypse, evaporating all life on earth, except 3 people. They survive because they themselves were at their moment of impending death. A research scientist, Zac Hobson, Joanne, and a brutish man, Api, think that they are the only ones left, until they inevitably find each other in this now dangerous world. Human nature takes over, causing tension and havoc.

This film could be compared to "On the Beach." As the scientist, Bruno Lawrence is sympathetic and believable. Peter Smith brings power and strength to his role as a New Zealand native. The beach and city locations are stunningly photographed. The last image in this movie will stick with you for some time!

The cast includes: Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, and Peter Smith.

Directed by Geoffrey Murphy.

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SYNOPSIS...

Government scientist Zack wakes up to find that no one else seems to be on Earth, or at least New Zealand. He has fun for awhile, going on a looting spree, but ends up going nearly crazy from loneliness.

Just when he's about to go around the bend, he encounters a pretty woman. They have an affair, but shortly another survivor shows up, a huge native, who takes the girl away from him.

At the end of the picture, Zack drives an explosives truck into his research station, to try to undo the government experiment he was working on that may have caused most people on Earth to disappear. Zack ends up on a beach which may or may not be on the Earth.

REVIEW...

THE QUIET EARTH, Directed by Geoffrey Murphy, (based on the book by Craig Harrison), is a puzzle, an enigma no clearer at the end than at the beginning. But for those who like their Sci-Fi to have confusing or incomprehensible aspects to it ("2001", "The Man Who Fell to Earth") it may just be your cup of tea.

Government scientist Zack, played by Bruno Lawrence ("Smash Palace"), is fascinating as he confronts a world missing of all other humans, as well as animal life. Particularly memorable is a brief scene in which Zack wanders through the city at night, playing a mournful sax, in an attempt to attract someone's attention. This is my favorite scene in the film.

We watch him go from an exuberant looter to a man nearly crazy from loneliness, clad only in a dirty woman's slip. Lawrence's expressive, every man's features allow us to really care about his plight.

Zack's eventual encounter with a pretty woman with a gun (Alison Routledge) changes everything for him. The fact that the only woman on Earth is young, pretty, and smart, shows that Zack is one of the all time lucky dudes, as are we, the viewers.

But Zack's luck is short lived, as he soon encounters the third person on Earth: a huge Maori, a local New Zealand native, (Peter Smith), who is also armed. Faster than you can say menage a troi, a triangle develops, and sexual jealousy rears its ugly head, as well as black-white conflicts emerge. The performances of both Routledge and Smith are strong and persuasive. At one point Routledge tells Smith; "I wouldn't go with you if you were the last man on Earth." Smith tersely replies, "I'm working on it!"

Zack does a test on the sun with some borrowed equipment from the science lab. He determines that the sun will blow up in a few days if something isn't done.

Proving he's the ultimate cool guy, Zack sacrifices his life (sort of) to blow up the research lab where he used to work, the lab that did the experiment that caused all animal life and all human life, except for the three survivors, to vanish from the Earth.

Now, the confusing part: After the explosion at the lab, we see some neat red lights and distortions, and then go down a tunnel of light. Then we see the sun, which was the first image at the start of the movie. Next we see Zack sleeping on the beach. When he wakes we see many atomic mushroom like cloud formations, and what looks like Saturn looms up from the horizon, almost filling the sky.

What is this supposed to mean? Is Zack dead, and is he now in heaven? Is he dreaming? Is he in someone else's dream? Is he now on an Earth altered by the explosion at the lab? Is he on a habitable moon of Saturn? Is he in a different dimension? I have no idea. But I know that the ending at first annoyed me, but later I was amused, as though my brain were being lightly tickled by a metaphoric feather.

In addition, the fresh New Zealand beach and city locations are stunningly photographed. And the Special Effects, though used sparingly, are effective, not unlike a laser light show.

This is a great film to see with friends, and then debate/argue about the film's meaning afterwards over coffee. And you may find your opinion of what the film means changing from one viewing to the next!

THE QUIET EARTH should be enjoyable for most Sci-Fi fans, but those who prefer their films with concrete, specific endings should avoid this film like the end of the world!