The Quiet Earth

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 16


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,797
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Movie Info

In a tour-de-force sci-fi story with only three main characters, Kiwi director Geoffrey Murphy creates an interesting dynamic nuanced with shades of mysticism. When scientist Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) experiments with a radical new power source -- a band of energy that would circle the planet -- the project goes awry and apparently wipes out all living creatures (they vanish without a trace). At first Zac adjusts by indulging himself in some of his materialistic desires, but he soon starts a serious search for other signs of human life. He discovers it in New Zealand in the form of Joanne (Alison Routledge), with whom he falls in love, and Api (Peter Smith), a Maori. The challenges the three face in order to survive, as well as their personal interactions, keep this human drama engrossing. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Quiet Earth

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (3)

  • The awe-inspiring final image in the film (of another daybreak, echoing the film's opening) is similarly slippery, catching Zac on a liminal, limbic shoreline between multiverse cosmology and hard eschatology.

    Jun 26, 2018 | Full Review…
  • [A] strange, vivid movie.

    Sep 29, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It has the usual huggermugger about tremors and grids and the sun acting peculiarly, plenty of computer screens and significant beeps...

    Aug 30, 2004 | Full Review…
  • Lawrence is compelling, and as a balding, middle-aged man is a refreshing lead for a movie that, if made in Hollywood now, would star Will Smith, Tom Cruise, or whoever the hot, young, brooding leading man of the hour happens to be.

    Nov 26, 2018 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…
  • Murphy ensures that the film is laced with a very singular brand of Kiwi humour.

    Oct 31, 2018 | Full Review…
  • One could never repeat an effort like The Quiet Earth; it stands alone in a universe that seems to be itself completely an original.

    Aug 22, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Quiet Earth

  • Jun 17, 2015
    A really interesting film that looks at human nature in a number of different ways. About the potential risks involved when "playing god" and messing with science on an atomic level. But what do we do, should we stop experimenting and learning and leave things as they are. Should we not build the Large Hadron Collider for example for fear of creating a black hole? I had a conversation with someone of a religious persuasion that said we should stop but this person also said that there was no guarantee that sciences prediction that our sun would die is accurate so make of that what you will? Zac is a scientist who wakes up one morning to discover that he is alone in the world. Initially he is stoked about this and does the kind of things that a lot of us would do. This includes driving a car through a mall like in The Blues Brothers, dressing in woman's underwear, drinking champagne for breakfast and moving into a penthouse suite. Admittedly the second example is an acquired taste but don't knock it till you try it is what I say!!! He goes to work and realises that what he has been working on may have been a contributory factor to what has happened. He then starts to go a little bit mad in the head in his own company. He declares himself president of the quiet earth and gives a speech to assembled cardboard audience which included Bob Marley, The Pope, Elvis, Adolf Hitler and The Queen. He then later has a moment of clarity and does some experiments where he deduces that the very fabric of the universe has fundamentally changed. He predicts another occurrence is likely. Another part of human nature that is explored in this is our inner built desire to be social. What happens if we are denied this interaction, the politics involved in sexual attraction and how we can become wildly protective of this in the same way that you see on nature programs observing a pride of lions, herd of wildebeest or a gathering of chest beating primates down your local discothèque all presumably competing for the female that is wearing the least and showing the most. I assume that such matters are normally settled with a game of Hungry Hippos, conkers or possibly a round of Jägerbombs. How basic reason and sensibleness (made up word) might be disregarded the moment a bit of totty enters the equation and the testosterone levels rise. An intriguing film done on a small budget back in the 80s and I liked how it achieved the sense of isolation. I also love films with open endings and The Quiet Earth doesn't disappoint in the regard.
    Justin F Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2014
    A remake of 1959's The World The Flesh And The Devil, but set in New Zealand. The opening is good (one man facing the possibility of being the last man on earth), but the essential dramatic qualifying dilemma (2 guys at the end of the world ... and only one woman - it's movie gold!) is inexplicably downplayed which very nearly guts the thing. Still, some interesting moments, though it's better to see the original.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2011
    I would dread writing a professional review of "The Quiet Earth," because if I were seeing this New Zealand film for the first time, I wouldn't want any pre-knowledge of its content beyond the fundamental premise: a research scientist wakes up one morning and finds that the global energy project he works on has malfunctioned and vaporized everyone else on Earth. On the other hand, if you're viewing this film's Flixster page, you see a cast list of more than one person and an official trailer that shows the three main characters. So, it's no secret that scientist Zac eventually discovers at least two other survivors: an attractive redhead and a Maori brute. With this preamble out of the way, let's say "The Quiet Earth" spends most of its time making the viewer imagine what he would do if he were alone on Earth and had all of civilization as his personal playground. The filmmakers create a convincing depiction of an empty metropolis, and we see Zac both indulge himself with empty luxury and, more pragmatically, try to diagnose what went wrong and see if there is any solution. The other two characters behave less wisely, which is somewhat frustrating, but perhaps they should be forgiven -- after all, they're not scientists. But whatever misgivings the film accumulates are largely erased by an awe-inspiring close that is "2001: A Space Odyssey"-like in its majesty and provocative ambiguity. And up until those final minutes, you'll have no idea where the story is headed. So, please be patient. This review could not be complete without adding that composer John Charles turns in a classy, orchestrated score that perfectly accents the story's poignancy.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    This is one of those post-apocalypse movies. It's kind of slow, but atmospheric and weird, in a good way. I really enjoyed it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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