The Quiet Earth
December 8, 2001
Finally this underrated apocalyptic sci-fi drama about a man who wakes up to find himself alone in the world comes to DVD.
The Quiet Earth is one of those movies you probably saw late at night during the summer holidays as a kid and it stuck in your head, so it’s all the more accomplished for being so memorable when only viewed once. There are other movies that deal with the destruction of the human race save for a handful of people – The Omega Man springs to mind – but arguably The Quiet Earth is the one you’ll remember.
A modestly budgeted film shot in New Zealand, director Geoff Murphy neverless creates an eerie sequence of events that whilst far-fetched, are always handled realistically. Broken down into small pieces the science bit doesn’t really hold water, but that’s just the ‘maguffin’ (a reason for characters to interact at a certain time or place) and the fun of the movie is witnessing the main character do what you would probably do if there was nobody else left alive on Earth, like drive around in a police car pretending to be a cop, or moving into a luxury mansion.
Zac Hobson wakes up in a hotel room and before you can say ‘Vanilla Sky’, he realizes that everybody has vanished. Has it got something to do with the top secret project he was a part of, or has God ‘blinked’ and killed off everybody by design? As Zac wanders through the lifeless city he slowly acquires clues to what might have happened. But the loneliness soon gets to him and he becomes suicidal.
So why did he survive and nobody else? Well it turns out he isn’t alone and it’s not long before Joanne and Api appear, just as confused and desperate for answers. It turns out their survival from ‘the effect’ is rather ironic…
Geoff Murphy, showing skill for realistic characters and memorable shots here (Zac running horizontally along a wall during an ‘event’), sadly went on to make rubbish like Under Siege 2 and Freejack. Filmed in 1985, back when studios wanted to make interesting films rather than just rake in the cash with predictable, PC blockbusters, The Quiet Earth is a welcome antidote to today’s hollow sci-fi movies. It has its faults, such as the eyebrow-raising scientific theory as to why the event happened and is continuing to effect the Earth, and sometimes characters change from bad to good a little too often (why does Joanne choose Api after he reveals he killed someone?). But overall the apocalyptic effect of the movie will stay with you, especially the haunting ending.
None to speak of. The film isn’t even presented in widescreen. All you get is eight still photos from the movie. Lame, but this is one DVD you should buy purely for the film, and if you shop around you should find it for under six quid.