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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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!