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Interesting, low budget SF sleeper in the tradition of the Twilight Zone
on 7 July 2008
Jerome Bixby was a scriptwriter of some of the strongest episodes of the original Star Trek and Twilight Zone television series and this film is very much in the same vein. John Oldman is a senior lecturer at a California university who is moving on and refuses to tell his colleagues where. At his goodbye party, he makes the astounding confession that he is in fact a late Cro-Magnon man, born with the ability to continually regenerate, and who has witnessed the whole of human history in his 14,000 year lifetime. His revelations over one long evening shake his colleague's beliefs and perceptions to the core.
This film is certainly unusual, and bears all the hallmarks of a labour of love. The budget is obviously minuscule, but the cast to their spirited best with a very unusual script and a very limited locale. The performances are generally sound, with some less than impressive, it has to be said.
The central concept has been explored not only by Bixby in his Star Trek script Requiem for Methuselah, but in stories like Clifford Simak's 1980 Hugo award winning short story `The Grotto of the Dancing Deer'. The fact that Oldman was, in fact, a very significant historical and religious personage pushes the plot further than it really needs to go. The point it makes about this `religious personage' is an entirely valid one, but I'm not sure it needed to be made here, and it is the central weakness of the film.
A quirky watch, probably best rented rather than bought, a touching tribute to a talented scriptwriter of the golden age of TV SF, and a pleasant example of a SF film trying to drive itself forward with ideas rather than special effects.