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Brother John

4.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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(Jan 07, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

He left home as a child. He traveled the world and visited places few men have seen. There is no way to contact him. Yet, whenever a death occurs in the family, he knows to return home. He just knows. Academy Award(r) Winner Sidney Poiter (1964, Best Actor in a Leading Role, LILLIES OF THE FIELD) is Brother John in this compelling film about the mysteries and prejudices of a small Alabama town on the brink of upheaval.

Amazon.com

Brother John is a fascinating example of the social-issue cinema that flourished in the early 1970s. This subtly engrossing drama posits the second coming of Christ as an Alabama-born black man named John Kane (Sidney Poitier)--a prodigal son, savior, and quiet peacemaker who can still kick ass when he needs to. Screenwriter Ernest Kinoy's clever strategy is to embrace near-total ambiguity, injecting just a hint of divinity into Kane's personal belongings. Director James Goldstone (a veteran, along with cinematographer Gerry Finnerman, of TV's original Star Trek) maintains a crucial balance of faith and uncertainty that inspires one of Poitier's most underrated performances; at times he really seems to be carrying the burdens of humankind in his weary, compassionate heart. Is he God, bidding farewell on the verge of doomsday? Only the doctor who birthed him (Will Geer, at his best) surmises the truth. A fine score by Quincy Jones with then-trendy harmonica soloist Toots Thielemans makes this a '70s gem to savor. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Beverly Todd, Paul Winfield, Bradford Dillman, Will Geer, Sidney Poitier
  • Directors: James Goldstone
  • Producers: Joel Glickman
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 7, 2003
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007CVRT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,798 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Brother John" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie really makes you stop and think, about how you live your life and how others live theirs. Every person's life has a purpose. Each of us has to find out what that purpose is. Many don't know it, but you can live out your purpose and still enjoy life at the same time, affecting other people in the positive. This movie almost seemed to be from the mind of a pessimist, but some may say a realist. I think it reflects the moral conscious of that day. I have seen a good number of Sidney Poitier movies, and it amazes me how he can always keep that poker face in every tough seen (one calling for little to no expression when giving someone critical information). He ranks right up there with all of the leading men of Hollywood of old, great actors of back in the day.
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By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is filled with a since of righteousness and the importance of human respect. Although it is set in the termoil of the late 60's early 70's the story line is timeless. The film brings into focus, through the life of John (Sydney Poitier), a since of destiny for the human race. Truly an excellent work.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is simply the greatest film work ever done and greatly overlooked. It is the inspiration for one of my books and is a timeless masterpiece.
It's unbelievable how much this story is overlooked.
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Like Fragment of Fear (which was also released in 1970)I happened upon this movie while channel surfing back in the 1980's. From beginning to end, I was taken in by the mystery shrouding the main character John Kane. Who, or what Brother John is, remains a bit of a mystery. There are, however, some pretty strong (yet subtle) implications regarding the nature of the man in question. There is also quite a bit of sociopolitical and racial commentary, which is not unusual for a Vietnam era film. Furthermore, the film touches on philosophical and moral issues that give it a depth beyond the deceptively simple plot. There is, in fact, a thought provoking question about the nature of humanity, and the moral implications of its actions towards members of its own species, as well as those of others throughout its brief history on the planet.
The script is superb conceptually, and implies (without actually stating) that other-worldly beings are responsible for the creation, or at least the evolution, of Man as a so-called rational animal. Furthermore, there is also the insinuation that a member of that race (in human form) once checked on our progress, and gave an unfavorable report to say the least. Now almost 2000 years later, another observer (or perhaps the same one in a different human form) has been sent to make a record of current (circa 1970) activity all over the globe. The purpose of this is to decide whether the human experiment was a failure or a success, and whether or not it should be shut down. In short, the question simply put is: Does humanity as a species deserve to survive, or are its sins too great? Deep questions indeed, which might make the viewers of this film question their own moral standing.
That aside, however, the acting of Sidney Poitier and company is superb, and I can't help but marvel at the fact that such a hidden gem has practically been forgotten over the decades.
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Format: DVD
This is a great movie, but one I'd recommend watching before you read these reviews which give our explanation of what we think it means. Poitier gives a very fine performance, as does Gerr and the rest of the cast. The cinematography (note creative use of light and grainy closeups) and soundtrack (hip Quincy Jones) is excellent (if a bit early 70's dated). Brother John may be an enigmatic character, but the plot is not so subtle in it's look at racism, war, worker and big industry relations, modern humanity and a wide range of human relationships.

In many ways this plays as an allegory of Jesus Christ's life, but it is also more. By the end I thought he was more John The Revelator than Christ. But he is also more wise, restrained and dispassionate than those traditional Christian characters. He is more like Christ as the Taoist sage witnessing and absorbing the world without resistance or judgment.

While the plot is clearly allegorical, with an axe to grind about social injustices, the beauty is that it makes you want to think and examine on your own. And simply live in the moment.
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Any movie with Sidney Poitier in it is a good movie. This story however has missed the mark. It tries too hard to force you to use your imagination of what's going on. The first 2/3rds are good and then it begins to run downhill. The writer is definitely not a religious believer and is more concerned with inventing religion that using it.
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I thought this movie was going to be a religious movie according to the plot on the back dvd cover. The main character carried a Bible in a different language and also the Jewish version of the Bible, consequently, very little about religion at all. The ending left you with what kind of an ending is that. Not clear at all. There was of course a love story between the main character and a teacher but I fast forward all threw that. I am very glad that I bought a used dvd and didn't pay more for this movie. On the dvd cover, I thought that was the main character's little brother but it's the school teacher. We love Sidney and he acts good in all his movies but this movie needed more deeper meaning and explanation.
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