The Quiet Earth (DVD, 2006)

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Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Movies: Number Six

Jul 30, 2012 (Updated Nov 2, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent acting, great lifeless world exploration, insanity is fun.

Cons:May require a translation guide.

The Bottom Line: For the connoisseur of post-apocalptic cinema this is a must see.


Preface

For the longest time I have wanted to make a list of my favorite movies in my favorite genre of movies, which is easily the Post-Apocalypse genre.  My approach for this list is going to be much different than my lists for Top SNES and Playstation games.  For this list I will be reviewing my top ten Post-Apocalypse one at a time in descending order starting with number ten moving up to number one.

Also to note I eliminate a lot of movies from this genre for consideration by simply holding the genre to the purist meaning of its title.  My first rule for this Top Ten list is that they have to be actual movies, not mini-series or television shows, which eliminates some excellent mini-series like The Stand and series The Walking Dead.  My next rule for this Top Ten Post-Apocalypse Movies, and my biggest pet peeve about most Post-Apocalypse lists, is that the majority of the movie that I list must occur AFTER the apocalypse.   By my definition that removes movies where the apocalypse is actually occurring, such as disaster porn like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, as well as any movie that shows civilization slowly dying like Children of Men and Soylent Green.  So in short my definition of a Post-Apocalyptic movie is one that happens after at least half of the worlds’ population has died off and the survivors are now dealing with life after civilization that we know it has broken down.

Review of Top Post-Apocalyptic Movie #6: The Quiet Earth
 
For number six on the list I’m leaving all of the big studio productions and even leaving the U.S. of A for the small budget science fiction post-apocalypse movie The Quiet Earth filmed and set in New Zealand.  Don’t let the fact that it is a foreign film in a foreign language deter you from seeing this gem of a post-apocalypse movie.  With some extensive research I have compiled an extensive translation guide for you to understand the complicated Kiwi language.  Now get your thinking caps on and take notes.

In Kiwi the word: mate[meyt] = friend, pal, chap, bud, buddy, chum, or an associate.

Now with my handy Kiwi translation guide in hand let us delve into the movie.  The Quiet Earth was released in 1985 and was directed by Geoff Murphy and stars Bruno Lawrence as Zac Hobson.  It is 6:12 AM and Zac Hobson is having a grand time dying in bed buck naked when the sun briefly darkens and then flickers red, at which point Zac wakes up and prepares for another lousy day of life.  He checks the radio only to find it doesn’t pick anything up before heading out.  Zac stops to buy some gasoline in route only to find that the gas attendant is nowhere to be found.  In fact upon getting back in his car there doesn’t appear to be anybody anywhere.  Cars and trucks appear to be abandoned while they were still in use.  Zac even investigates a fire only to find that it was caused by an airplane crash, but there were no survivors, in fact there were no bodies at all.  All of the seat belts are still buckled and empty as if they all simply disappeared.

Finally Zac goes to his work at Delenco where he works in an underground lab on a project called ‘Project Flashlight’ only to find that the activation of ‘Project Flashlight’ appears to exactly correspond to when everybody disappeared.  It seems probably that this American run project is the culprit for the end of human life on the Earth (of course it’s ALWAYS got to be America’s fault *sigh*). After the lab locks itself down for raising radiation levels Zac has to break out of it by devising an explosive. Zac then proceeds to set out to the task of trying to find anybody else in the world still alive.

After doing the obligatory looping radio message and going into a drunken depression/madness Zac finally decides to leave his little dumpy place after five days and move on up in the world.  Despite now having much finer surroundings his mental condition does not improve in fact worsens markedly.  Eventually resorting to wearing women’s clothing and giving a speech to cardboard cutouts of famous figures complete with his own applause track declaring himself the president of this quiet earth.  Beyond that he goes on a streak of destruction where he teeters between aggression and suicidal depression.

Eventually Zac regains some sanity and sets himself into a routine with a purpose as he starts to study what he calls ‘the Effect’ which is what caused everybody else in the world to disappear, when finally after about forty minutes we finally see somebody other than Bruno Lawrence as Alison Routledge comes into his mansion as Joanne a young woman who also survived ‘The Effect’.  Zac has an instant attraction to her which she doesn’t really share, but due to the limited options she eventually grows fond of him in that way despite their age and appearance differences. 
 
Joanne thinks they should pursue finding more survivors and Zac agrees and proceeds to hide the fact that he is still working on figuring out ‘The Effect’ while she is searching for survivors.  Despite Zac not even caring to find anybody else he gets ambushed by Api (Pete Smith) the third survivor.  Api and Joanne become clearly attracted to one another and thus a love triangle emerges, all the while Zac is concealing the fact that he thinks ‘The Effect’ is going to happen again and wipe them out.

The beauty about The Quiet Earth is the attention to detail.  Never do you see a single animal or even a bug to break up the feeling of isolation for Zac.  Speaking of which Bruce Lawrence is not an actor that I am familiar with, but he gives one hell of a performance as he is giving a solo performance for almost half of the movie and is nearly as good as Tom Hanks in Castaway for comparison.  Geoff delivers an incredible science fiction story which focuses as much on human relationships as it does the effects of isolation on the mind.

To conclude the movie they left one of the most ambiguous endings I have ever seen, but that is fine by me.  With your newly acquired understanding of the Kiwi language I highly recommend you pursue finding this hidden gem of a post-apocalyptic movie, it easily stands the test of time, budget restraints, and language barrier.  It is probably easily the hardest of all of the movies in my Top Ten list to locate since most find their rotation on movie channels or can be simply streamed on Netflix, but you should persevere to find it, and then you too can be cultured like me after watching this foreign film.




Other Reviews In My Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Movies List 

Number Ten
Number Nine
Number Eight
Number Seven
Number Five
Number Four
Number Three
Number Two
Number One


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