The Quiet Earth

This page written circa 4 September, 2006.

I watched "The Quiet Earth" one evening last week. Bruno Lawrence's character sneaks away to a university physics lab while he is supposed to be searching for survivors; when asked for his location he glances at a map of Hamilton and says "corner of Hillcrest and Mansel". My office is on Hillcrest, and our architect is in Mansel, so I know the intersection well. I knew TQE was a New Zealand film, but I had no recollection of any locations appearing, and I was not watching it for any reason other than seeing it on our shelves and wanting to watch some Science Fiction. The coincidence of that intersection was a surprise, and I have been dwelling upon it all week.

Hamilton is probably the right place to make a film called "Quiet" anything. I found myself driving below the speed limit last week, where a month ago I exceeded it by 90kmh. No wonder Frankenfurter's lifestyle was a failure.

In the mean time, life is indeed an adventure. My weekdays are filled with renovating an engineering degree, and weekends with renovating a farm. We are in a kind of overload, living in too little space, organising the kitchen upgrade, working with an architect on the design of the new wing, designing the new main bathroom, maintaining ride-on mowers, fences, pool, spa, stream, preparing paddocks for sheep and a horse, fighting to get broadband, and trying to find the time to keep in touch with old friends and filter the Kiwi flux for new ones. Life was so easy in Santa Rosa, so routine... why have I done this?

Warwick supplied some of the answer, rather indirectly. "What I used to like about Jonathan was that no matter when you called, he was always up to something mad, and it isn't like that anymore", he confided to Kay. That was absolutely the case. I do not know if it was America, the move away from inner-city living, or having kids that did it, but I was somehow suburbanised, drained of impulsiveness, reduced to a sedentary, comfy existence. It happened in Santa Rosa. One night soon after we met Dan and Steph they came to dinner and, feeling peckish at about 10PM, we whipped up Crepe Suzette. That did not seem to me then to be at all unusual, but I think it did seem so to Dan and Steph, and it would have seemed so to me by the time we left. The mania engine went off-line there somewhere.

Please wait while the mania service restarts...

The final scene of The Quiet Earth consists of our hero on a beach watching a spectacular Saturn-rise behind mushroom-shaped clouds, something between A Canticle for Leibowitz and When Worlds Collide. There is something appropriate in this too: I may be living on a farm, wedged between calla lilly fields, alpacas and dairy cows, but I am also running an Electronic Engineering department that grew out of the Physics school to which Bruno sneaked all those years ago, and I can get from one world to the other in 15 minutes... even below the speed limit.

| Home | Up one level |