The Quiet Earth (1985) Review and Thoughts
So, I was one of those youtube videos where someone had posted the full movie…forget which movie it was, but on the sidebar, I saw the movie “The Quiet Earth.” The info. said it was a New Zealand film from 1985 about a couple of survivors in a post-apocalyptic earth. Sounded interesting enough, so I downloaded it, added it to my Plex watchfolder to stream to my TV later on. Last night, I finally watched it, and let’s just say it was well worth it. An underrated film, no doubt, one that I’d wager few people have even heard of. Perhaps it’s because it’s from New Zealand, or maybe people just hated it back in the day? Who knows.
Our main character wakes up in bed, at home, and something is weird. He knows it, but he can’t quite place it. He gets ready for work, starts to make his commute, and he notices there are no people around at all, cars and trucks are left abandoned in the streets, he comes to a house and tries to get someone to answer, the water is spraying from the faucet, the bed has been used, but the inhabitants are nowhere to be found. A very effective setup to the film, eerie and lonely; we’re likely to see some weird stuff soon. We discover that he works at some sort of secret base, technology everywhere you look, 80′s era computer screens, old printers, doors that go swoosh as the open, a futuristic looking place, maybe military in nature, but definitely a place where secret work is taking place. We find out that what has happened was probably part of some program they were working on with the Americans called Project Flashlight- he doesn’t really explain fully what it is, outside of it being an energy grid set up around the planet, part of it allowing planes to refuel via electrons in the air (at least that’s what I gathered from his various explanations). An interesting idea, very thought provoking, very well done execution.
He realizes he’s the only one left, so he does the regular crazy stuff- drives a car through the mall, loads up on goodies, takes residence in a mansion, records a message played on the radio station to others, “My name is Zach…you can reach me at…” hoping others left alive will reach out to him. He slowly goes mad, decides he’s either President of the world or God, or both. I won’t say much else about the plot, but to mention that it’s all very well done. The locations are great, the empty streets all over make it truly feel post-apocalyptic, the acting is pretty spot on, and the story constantly makes you think about all sorts of issues.
It made me think a lot about these sorts of situations in general. How would we react if we thought we were the only ones alive on earth? And furthermore, if we chose to live our full lives, what would be the best, safest route to doing so? Most of these films seem to imagine a world where buildings aren’t soon falling into the city streets, and that electricity stays on for weeks, perhaps months or longer? But, that can’t be true, right? It kept popping into my head- the electricity would turn off in fairly short order, I’d think, right? Somewhere electricity is produced and harnessed and sent out over powerlines. Someone has to keep the power stations open and working, someone has to ensure the generators keep turning, that they stay oiled, that things don’t overheat, etc. So, how long would power stay on? Our main character solves the power issue early in the film by driving around a truck-based generator. All well and good, but what about food? Surely, there are tons of junk food items and canned foods that would last for a couple years, and then you can easily garden your way to food…I kept trying to throw up roadblocks in my mind. I guess you could easily find gardening books at any book store, right?
So, you’d have food easy enough, and with generators and tons of gas stored in gas stations around the country, you’d be able to power it all well until your death and beyond…but wouldn’t nuclear power plants, no longer being taken care of, overheat and explode, throwing radiation into every part of the planet? Wouldn’t normal power plants explode too? Cities would be pretty deadly, as gas lines would eventually break and explode, skyscrapers would eventually fall over (that can’t be safe!), and all sorts of animals and disease would, no doubt, run rampant through the streets. So, it seems small towns or the country would be safest, but steer clear or places with lots of animals, I’d assume? So many questions, so many things few of us would ever know, having little expertise in a range of topics…but always a cool thought experiment. These movies are always fun in that you imagine yourself in the guy’s shoes, wondering how awesome it’d be to take over a city for a day, able to do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, no matter how insane. Like a real life version of Grand Theft Auto to the nth degree. It almost makes up for the fact that you’d never see another person again. Almost.
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