Earthling 1980 film review | Book Addicts

Earthling (film)

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Earthling is a 1980 film about a boy stranded in the Australian mountains after his parents are accidentally killed.

10 out of 10 stars.  Few films can capture your heart the way this one does.  Even forty years after it was made, it’s stunning in the cinematography and the storyline will tug at your heartstrings.

Shawn Daley is from Los Angeles, vacationing with his parents in the Australian mountains when they inadvertently drive their caravan off a cliff.  They plummet to their deaths and Shawn is left alone.  Because the caravan dropped from about 300 feet, it is completely crushed at the bottom, upside down.  There is no way to get inside and salvage any food, clothes, or supplies.

Patrick Foley, is on his way back to his family’s cabin in an unknown valley in the Australian mountains when he sees the caravan drive off the cliff and plummet to the valley far below.  He’s dying of cancer and has only a few days left to live.  He’s come home to die, so even if he had the inclination to save the boy, he would never make it taking him back to civilization.  So instead he goes slow enough that the boy can follow him and along the way he teaches him how to hunt, trap, make a fire, and cook.  He teaches him how to treat the native aborigines and use his ears and nose when he can’t see the dangers that are lurking about.

Shawn is played by Ricky Shroeder, probably the best part he ever played.  Patrick is played by William Holden less than a year before he died. In 1980 when the movie was filmed, Holden had told people that he was dying of lung cancer, although that was not on his death certificate.

What I remember of William Holden is that he was once called The Great White Hunter because he took friends drinking and hunting in Africa.  That stuck with me for years because he was an alcoholic and a somewhat brutal man.  He was married to a woman who looked much like Julia Roberts for three decades before he divorced her and fell in love with Stefanie Powers.  The legacy Holden left behind was not crafted by him, but by Stefanie.  She built two foundations to care for African animals, both in his name.

10 out of 10 stars.  This is a beautiful survival story.


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