Monday, September 03, 2007

The Brother From Another Planet

John Sayles | 1984 | 109 min | USA

A space alien on the run (Joe Morton), crash lands down to Earth; right into Harlem. An alien from outerspace would stand out in a crowd, you'd think, but he's going to fit in just fine. You see, save for his feet which have 3 giant toes on them, he looks like a black man in his thirties.

Mute but understanding English, and with super sensitive... senses; he navigates his way around Harlem, trying to figure out how things work here on Earth. It's a clever take on the fish-out-of-water story. Really strong music and sound effects are used to show the disorientation that the alien experiences as he roams the streets. When he touches a wall, he feels (we hear) the troubles that have happened in that place before him. It's a device that's been used before, but it's done exceptionally here.

The fish-out-of-water story becomes a fish-on-the-run story when two black suited white men (Really aliens, and one of them played by writer/director of the film, John Sayles.) turn up, looking for Morton; wanting to take him back to their planet.

The Brother From Another Planet touches on things such as community, racism, drugs, and slavery, but never bashes you over the head about them. It's an entertaining film, with a small story that doesn't neccessarily have a driving moral or lesson behind it. It's the story of an alien on the run who lands in Harlem. A simple premise, which because of its setting, addresses certain issues relevant to its characters.

Also of note is that the film is beautifully shot by Ernest Dickerson, who was the cinematographer of Do the Right Thing, and who has since moved on to directing films himself, directing the most righteous, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, and recently, episodes of TV shows such as The Wire and The 4400.

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