The Brother from Another Planet

Dir: John Sayles, 1984. Starring: Joe Morton, John Sayles, David Strathairn. Black Cinema.

Who knew that you could use extraterrestrials to make a bold statement about racial conflict and immigration? Seems all too easy when you think about it, but John Sayles did it here with a surprising amount of brilliance.

It's been years since I've seen the film, and one of the joys of revisiting a classic movie is being able to finally understand its message through the humor and irony of the plot. In the movie we find an alien with African-American features (Joe Morton) who ironically crashes his spaceship at the Ellis Island Immigration Center. He hobbles around injured and observes the foreign surroundings before healing his wounds with a simple touch. Though he's unable to speak or make vocal sounds, he can understand every language on Earth and has other abilities that could be compared to that of a psychic superhero. The first that we observe is his ability to touch inanimate objects and hear the pain and anguish from spirits that used or were around the object. The only physical feature that sets him apart from others, besides the fact that he's black, are his three oversized toes as feet, which he keeps covered, of course.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Jul 1, 2011 5:48pm
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