The American Patrick is seriously ill with cancer and travels back to his native country Australia to spend the last days on the old farm of his youth. The journey takes him deep into the wilderness of Australia, where he meets the boy Shawn, whose parents died in a tragic accident. Shawn joins Patrick, who somewhat reluctantly shows him tips for surviving in the wilderness. The journey is arduous, but when the two arrive at the old farm, a special friendship has developed between them, but Patrick cannot escape his fate.
The Earthling is the last film by director Peter Collinson (The Italian Job) and the penultimate by leading actor William Holden. The US/Australian co-production was supposed to be the first of seven films that were to be shot in Australia, but unfortunately it was only this one film. The gripping drama set against an impressive natural backdrop accompanies Patrick, who is suffering from cancer, on his last journey in which he has to deal with little Shawn. A great movie that doesn't only work as a survival drama, but also lets you reflect on the meaning of life. Highly recommended.
There are two versions of the film on the US Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. The international version runs about 3 minutes longer than the US version, but the differences are much more profound than the runtime difference would suggest. Throughout the entire film, a lot of alternative footage was used and various scenes were moved or set up alternatively. A 1:1 comparison, as you might be used to, therefore makes no sense. Instead, we divided the film into individual sections and present the changes there. Basically, the international version takes more time for the characters and deepens the local colour of Australia. At the beginning, there is more dialogue between Shawn's father Ross and the inhabitants of the village. Moreover, only the international version mentions that Ross himself is Australian. A dispute between Ross and his wife Bettina about their son's upbringing is also only mentioned in the international version. In the US version, many scenes are shortened or postponed, but only there at the end of the movie you can see how Patrick is buried by Shawn. The reference to the "magic" bag that Shawn is given, is thus better emphasized. It's eye-catching that Shawn is approached much more roughly by Patrick in the international version. These somewhat rough tips have been deliberately removed in the US version.
Both versions are successful, so it's hard to name a clear favourite, especially since there is a lot of alternative material and exclusive scene material available. The international version makes the impression that it is a little bit rounder. The US Blu-ray by Kino Lorber is highly recommended, as both versions are available in excellent picture quality and in the correct picture format. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray is region A-locked.
The American Cut was compared to the International Cut. Both are included on the US Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.
US version: 96:58 min.
Opening credits: Patrick's arrival
In the US version, you can see Patrick arriving by plane. At the immigration control, the officer wants to know from Patrick what the reason for his stay is. Patrick says he is just passing through. When he is sitting in the bus, he is watching kangaroos.
Instead, the international version shows alternative scenes of Patrick on the bus.
Patrick's arrival in the village
Patrick comes to the village with the trucker. The int. version puts a stronger focus on the villagers.
In the US version, Patrick looks over the landscape and says that he remembers it, then he gets into the truck. Patrick talks a little with the trucker before they get into the village. The trucker gets out and talks to one of the residents before he goes to the bar. Patrick stares forward at a shed. Finally, he gets out. He leaves his bag beside an old man.
In the int. version, you can see alternative scenes in which the truck drives through the landscape. The trucker goes directly to the bar. The people on the veranda follow him. Patrick is sitting in the truck, thinking and looking at the shed. Various shots of the village can be seen. In the bar, the inhabitants talk about cattle farming. Patrick gets out of the truck and walks over the veranda.
Arrival of the Daley family
The Daley family comes to town in their coach. Only in the int. version you see Ross talking to the villagers while the girl fills up the car.
In the US version, Shawn goes to the old man who has dropped his pipe. He picks it up and gives it to him. He discovers a book cover in Patrick's backpack. He picks it up. When the old man looks at it, Shawn puts it back and goes to the bar.
In the int. version, Shawn shows the girl the gas cap. Before that, she was seen being sent to refuel. Shawn walks into the bar. Ross talks to the locals and says he's looking for a good place to fish. The bar owner thinks that the area is pretty extensive. The girl walks into the bar, says there's a lack of oil. Shawn gets on his horse and says that he helped open the fuel filler flap. He has Bettina ask him what Ross is drinking.
Patrick goes to Christian
Patrick goes to Christian, whom he sees again after a long time. Christian is cheerful at first, but Patrick tells him that he will only stay for a short time. Christian gets angry because the two had big plans, then he realizes that Patrick is sick. In the end, Patrick meets Christian's wife.
The scene is quite similar in both versions, but shows alternative footage almost throughout.
Patrick goes to Bobby
Patrick is meeting his old friend Bobby. In the US version, they go for a walk, while in the international version they talk in his cabin. Patrick gets a horse from Bobby.
In the US version, Bobby and Patrick go for a walk. Bobby talks a lot until Patrick gives him a present. In the bag, there is a metal box with flies for fishing.
In the int. version, the two talk in Bobby's hut. Bobby moans a little bit about the tourists and finds out that Patrick became a "Townie".
At the end of the scene, the US version shows more shots of Patrick riding around.
Family Daley travels on
Ross is packing up the last of his stuff. Shawn spots the bag at Bobby's. He tells him it has magical powers and gives it to him on loan.
There is no difference in content between the versions.
Patrick and family go out into nature
Patrick rides out into nature while the family goes swimming in a forest lake.
The US version shows how Patrick lets his horse go to take a short cut. Bettina is worried that they have lost their way, but Ross thinks that everything is still right.
The int. version shows here instead how Patrick rides around on his horse. It is only briefly cut to the car of the Daley family.
When the family goes swimming in nature, there is no difference in content.
In the US version, we see Patrick hiking and eventually longer as the family travels around.
In the int. version, here are the scenes in which Patrick lets the horse go, and also a shot of the family driving through the forest, which has been seen in the US version before.
Daley family & the Canyon
The family parks at a canyon. Due to an accident, Ross steers the car over the cliff while Shawn is looking for firewood. He watches the car crash into the canyon. He runs down but can do little.
In the int. version, Ross blames his wife for warning Shawn a little too harshly about the cliff. The two continue to argue in the camper, because Ross wants to teach his son the cultural heritage of Australia. Bettina does not understand her husband and feels alienated from him. Ross gets into the car angrily.
The US version shows how Shawn finds the magic bag in the rubble. We can also see him roaming around a bit and encountering wild animals.
Shawn spends the night in the jungle
After his night in the jungle, we can see in the US version how a group of rats approaches. Shawn flees. He runs into Patrick, who is walking around. Shawn watches him. As Patrick is sleeping, he tries to steal his bread and an apple from Patrick. Patrick is faster and chases the boy away.
The int. version shows here the scenes in which Patrick finds the magic bag and meets the wild animals. After that follows the scene with the rats.
Shawn calls for help
Shawn gets into a river and calls for his parents.
In the US version, we can see Patrick hearing the cry for help and thinking about what he can do. He sees no way to bring the boy back. Then we see Shawn resting on a log before he gets up.
The int. version shows Patrick on a mountain when he hears the call for help from Shawn. After that, we can see Shawn coming out of hiding.
Patrick's giving Shawn food
The scene is similar in both versions.
Patrick gives Shawn survival tips
Patrick explains to Shawn how he can orientate himself by using a branch and the sun to get back to civilization.
The scene is also very similar. In the US version, we can also see Shawn covering himself with Patrick's coat. The US version shows the scene where Shawn is resting at the tree.