The Quiet Earth
dir: Geoff Murphy
It would be remiss not to say a few words. A friend asked the other day how this stands up thirty years later and I had to say really well. I suspect that’s partly because the effects are simple. A 300M budget today to make such a movie will be easily outdone by tomorrow’s 300M going that much further with that much better tech behind it.
This movie has almost no high tech visuals. It creates atmosphere, it has a script and characters instead. To such greater effect. Think that with the 317M spent to make the 2017 Star Wars series picture, one could make 150 movies of the quality of The Quiet Earth. Whoever is in charge of deciding these things should be sacked. The world would be a better place with 150 movies of the ilk of The Quiet Earth or many of the Oz movies I’ve been watching lately.
It got criticised for the lead’s quick descent into madness, but I don’t think that’s what happened. One of the twists in this particular scenario is that he was part of the plan which brought this upon the world. So he’s the only one left and it’s his fault. The scene where he addresses cardboard cut out figures from the balcony is brilliant. He isn’t mad, he’s pissed off. Hence the moment the girl appears he gets his act together.
Murphy, Lawrence and the film won thoroughly deserved acclaim on the festival circuit, including prizes in Italy and Russia where it won a Jury’s Peace Prize. Perhaps a pointed statement, thinking of the politics of the period. As is so often the case, Murphy’s work was appreciated by his peers and he went on to a Hollywood sort of career before coming back home.
Bruno Lawrence is terrific in the lead, a great loss for us that he died too soon. Nice contrast here, with the quirky Spotswood, which we saw recently.