You don't waste time, do you?
I try not to.
Well, you need help?
Would you like to tell us what the hell that was all about?
I don't like good-byes.
Kind of the point of a good-bye party, John.
Went to a certain amount of trouble, you know?
Could've at least stayed a few minutes, huh?
Eaten some of the food we so feverishly prepared?
I apologize, Harry.
But why are you moving so quickly?
You only resigned a couple of days ago.
You got the history chair at Stanford.
Well, taquitos, chicken wings, Roastie-Toasties and beer.
If we'd had more time, we'd have done something a little more grandiose.
Candlelight dinner at McDonald's.
Taquitos are fine.
Art's gonna be along, too.
He's, uh, talking to a student. Pfft.
Is George taking over for you?
George or Trimbell. Has the dean made up his mind?
He hasn't called.
Wh-What is this?
It looks like a Van Gogh, But I've never seen it before.
Is that an original, John?
No, it's just a gift someone gave me.
Still, it's a superb copy.
Contemporaneous, I think, May I take a closer look?
Yeah, it's the same stretcher as Van Gogh used.
Yeah, there's writing on the back in French.
Oh, "to my friend Jacques Borne."
Wonder who that was?
Someone he knew, I guess.
Brilliant deduction, sherlock.
Surely you'll have this looked at, appraised?
Well, maybe sometime, but I wouldn't really want money for it.
That does it.
Put that stuff in the kitchen.
No, I'm gonna put it in the bathroom, John.
Gas is off, electricity's on.
Get comfortable while you can.
The furniture's going this afternoon.
It's been years since I sat on a floor.
Heh. I can't remember her name.
Eh, it's good for the back.
Can we do yoga exercises?
Tantric yoga, we can.
So you're leaving good old "we teach you."
Rather suddenly, you must admit.
Truth time, John.
Is there a problem?
Oh, come on, you know we wanna help.
That's appreciated, but really -
There's no problem.
Well, now I am curious.
Where are you going?
Givin' up tenure...
A decade of professorship, in line to chair the department, and you don't know where you're going?
Call it cabin fever.
After a while, I get itchy feet.
I've done this before.
No, no, no, you're too young to have done this before.
And he hasn't aged a day in ten years.
Every woman on the faculty would give anything to have that secret.
Is that what they're after, Edith?
Oh, stop, Harry.
Wow, can you pull this?
What the hell?
What do you hunt?
Around big bear.
With a bow and arrow?
Most people can't bag a deer with a rifle and a telescopic sight.
Though, good eatin'.
The best wild game.
Lives naturally, eats naturally.
Well, it's beautiful.
So, can I get an "a" for awesome?
Oh, my gosh.
That was fun.
You know Linda. You had her last semester.
She's one of my victims now. I'm taking her home.
She wanted to come by and say hello good-bye.
Is Art as tough as I hear?
Oh, archaeology's tough.
Dr. Jenkins is a fine teacher.
Oh, that's very politic.
It's very true. Uh-huh.
Something for you to read on the road, pal.
"Shadows of the cave: parallels to early man."
Publish or perish.
I'd rather read than write another one.
Oh, everybody, this is Linda.
Linda, this is everybody.
Where you going, John, like we give a damn?
We've already covered that.
John's got itchy feet.
There are over-the-counter remedies for that, John.
So there is a problem.
I just like to move on now and then.
It's a personal thing.
Well, not to pry.
I'm sorry I don't have more to offer you.
Got conversation, some seats for your behinds, And, uh...
Is he ducking out on us again?
...I do have this.
Oh ho ho! Johnny Walker green!
Didn't even know they made it in green.
What do they pay you?
Nothing is too good for my friends.
But I'm sorry - we are down to plastic cups now.
That's a sacrilege I'll tolerate.
I will do the honors.
Oh, come to papa.
Ooh! Here, cups, cups.
There we go.
Step on in here.
There ya go...
One for the birthday boy Excuse me. Art?
No, not for me.
Oh, no, I don't drink.
We're not gonna card you, darling.
All right, here, join the circle at least.
Well, to long life and good fortune To our esteemed friend and colleague, John Oldman.
May he find undeserved bliss wherever he goes.
Skol. Na zdorovye.
One off the top, John.
Mm! Oh, that's good.
John, we're all sorry to see you go.
Okay. Now we're done with that, what do we do for the rest of the afternoon?
Anyone got a good topic?
Like this, maybe? Heh.
What is that?
It's a burin off a parrot beak.
Inclined chisel point...
Probably early Magdalenian.
May I see that? Sure.
Yes indeed, that's what it is.
What's a burin?
A burin is a flint tool for grooving wood and bone, antlers especially, to make spear and harpoon points.
Magdalenians weren't noted for flint work, so this is a very nice specimen.
Okay, what's a Magdalenian?
A later Cro-Magnon, without gettin' technical.
It's the final culture of the upper Paleolithic.
If stones could speak, eh, Art?
So where'd you get that, John?
Believe it or not, from a thrift shop. A quarter.
You lucky dog!
I gotta go digging for this kind of stuff.
Can I, uh...?
I'm glad you did this.
Did what? You mean come over?
Well, so are we.
So are we.
We couldn't let you just run off.
John, what is up, huh?
Are you on America's most wanted?
We won't turn you in.
Yeah, come on, out with it.
You're among friends.
You are creating the mystery here.
Obviously, you have something you'd like to say. Say it!
Well, maybe I...
Ten, nine, eight, seven...
There is something I'm tempted to tell you, I think.
I've never done this before, and I wonder how it'll pan out.
I wonder if I could ask you a silly question.
John, we're teachers.
We answer silly questions all the time.
What if a man from the upper Paleolithic survived until the present day?
What do you mean, survived?
Yes. What would he be like?
Well, I know some guys.
You ever been to the Ozarks?
It's an interesting idea.
What, are you working on a science fiction story?
Say I am. What would he be like?
Well, seriously, As Art's book title suggests, he might be like any of us.
Dan. A caveman?
Well, there's no anatomical difference between, say, a Cro-Magnon and us.
Except that as a rule, we've grown taller.
What's the selective advantage of height?
Better to see predators in tall grass, my dear.
Actually, tall and skinny radiates heat more effectively in warmer climates.
And as for neanderthals, I mean, we've all seen apish people.
That strain's still with us.
But he'd be a caveman.
No, he wouldn't.
John's hypothetical man would have lived through 140 centuries...
...and changed with every one of them.
I mean, assuming normal intelligence.
Well, we think men of the upper Paleolithic were as intelligent as we are.
They just didn't know as much.
John's man would have learned as the race learned.
In fact, if he had an inquiring mind, his knowledge might be astonishing.
If you do write that, let me have a look at it.
I'm sure you'll make some anthropological boners.
It's a deal.
What would keep him alive?
What does the biologist say?
And ice cream.
All right, all right, I'll play.
All right, um, in science fiction terms, I would say...
Perfect regeneration of the body's cells, especially in the vital organs.
Actually, the human body appears designed to live about 190 years.
Most of us just die of slow poisoning.
Maybe he did something right, something everybody else in history had done wrong.
What, like eat the food, drink the water, and breathe the air?
Prior to modern times, those were pristine.
We've extended our lifespan in a world that's, uh... not fit to live in.
You know, it could happen.
The pancreas turns over cells every 24 hours, the stomach lining in three days, the entire body in seven years, but the process falters.
Waste accumulates, eventually proves fatal to function.
Now if a quirk in his immune system led to perfect detox, perfect renewal, then yeah.
He could duck decay.
Mm, that's a secret we'd all love to have.
Would you really want to do that?
Live 14,000 years?
Well, if I could stay healthy and I didn't age, I mean, why not?
Yeah. What a chance to learn.
Is anyone hungry?
You know, the more I think about it, yeah, it's possible.
Anything is possible, right?
After all, one century's magic, another century's science.
They thought Columbus was a nut job, right?
Aristarchus long before that.
I had a chance to sail with Columbus, Only I'm not the adventurous type.
I was pretty sure the Earth was round, but at that point, I still thought he might fall off an edge someplace...
Look around, John.
We just did.
I suppose there's a joke in there somewhere, but I don't get it.
There's nothing to get.
What are we talking about?
We were just talking about a caveman who survives until the present time.
As you said, what a chance to learn, once I learned to learn.
Did you start the whiskey before we got here?
Pretend it's science fiction.
Figure it out.
Okay, a- Very old Cro-Magnon living until the present.
John just confided that he's 14,000 years old.
Oh, John, you don't look a day over 900.
All right, Spock, I'll play your little game.
What do you want? What's the punch line?
Every ten years or so, when people start to notice I don't age, I move on.
That's very good, that's very quick, John.
I wanna read that story when you're done.
You want more?
By all means. This is great.
All right, now...
So you think that you are a...
A, uh, Cro-Magnon.
Well, I didn't learn it in school.
That's my best guess, based on archaeological data, maps, anthropological research.
Since Mesopotamia, I've got the last... 4,000 years straight.
You're ahead of most people, so please, go on.
Well, you know the background stuff, so I'll make it brief.
In what I call my first lifetime, I aged to about 35... what you see.
I ended up leading my group.
They saw me as magical.
I didn't even have to fight for it.
Then fear came, and they chased me away.
They thought that I was stealing their lives away to stay young.
The prehistoric origin of the vampire myth.
That is good!
First thousand years, I didn't know up from sideways.
How do you know the first thousand years?
An informed guess, based on what I've learned in my memories.
Most people can scarcely remember their childhood, but you have memories of that time?
Like yours, selective.
You know, the high points, the low points, traumas.
They stick in the mind forever.
Put down at 3 or 35, you still feel a twinge.
I kept getting chased because I wouldn't die, so I got the hang of joining new groups I found.
I also got the idea of periodically moving on.
We were semi-nomadic, of course, following the weather and the game we hunted.
The first 2,000 years were cold.
We learned it was warmer at lower elevations.
Late glacial period, I assume.
What was the terrain like?
Vast plains to the west.
West - something you learned in school.
Towards the setting sun.
I suspect I saw the British isles from what is now the French coast.
Huge mountains... on the other side of an enormous deep valley that was shadowed by the setting sun.
This is before they were separated from the continent by rising seas, as glaciers melted.
Yes, the end of the Pleistocene.
So far, what he says fits.
Oh, yeah, into any textbook.
And that's where I found it.
How can I have knowledgeable recall if I didn't have knowledge?
It's all retrospective.
All I can do is integrate my recollections with modern findings.
Caveman, you gonna hit me over the head with a club and drag me into the bedroom?
You'd be more fun conscious.
Let me get this straight.
We're not talking about reincarnation.
You're not saying that you remember whatever the hell it would be, 200 separate lifetimes, dying and being born again and yada yada?
Maybe there is something to this reincarnation thing.
You're supposed to come back again and again, learn and learn, and somehow, John, you just managed to bypass all the other bodies.
Well, what's the point?
What about oceans?
Didn't see them till much later.
So how would you know an ocean from a lake?
Big waves - something else.
I can only surmise in retrospect.
Were you curious about where it all came from?
We would look up at the sky and wonder.
"There's gotta be some big guys up there.
What else made all this down here?"
At first I thought there was something wrong with me - maybe I was a bad guy for not dying.
Then I began to wonder if I was cursed or perhaps blessed.
Then I thought maybe I had a mission.
Do you still think you do?
God works in mysterious ways.
I think I just happened.
Do we have Ellie's midterm here?
I picked it up with the periodicals.
No, you're worried about your parents?
Don't- Don't worry.
You passed, C+.
Take care of yourself.
What does pre-med need with history?
John, please continue.
Come on, I thought we were done with that.
No! Let's go on with it.
Besides, I think he's making a certain amount of sense.
Like Hegel. Logic from absurd premises.
That Van Gogh?
He gave it to me.
I was, uh, Jacques Bourne at the time, A pig farmer.
A pig farmer?
I like to work with my hands.
He would come out to the place, paint.
We talked about capturing nature in art.
Turner, Cezanne, Pissarro.
Oh, the Nolde landscapes.
Not in Van Gogh's time.
He would have loved them, though.
Well, I don't understand why you can't remember where you're from.
Geography hasn't changed.
I learned that in- professor Hensen's tepid lectures.
But you're right.
Where did you live when you were five years old?
Your mother, she took you to the market?
Mm-Hmm. What direction was it?
From your house.
I don't know.
Um, three blocks.
Were there any references that stuck in your mind?
Well, there was a gas station and a big field.
I was told I could never go there alone.
And if you went back there today, Would it be the same?
No. I'm sure it's all different and built up.
Thus the saying "You can't go home again"
Because it isn't there anymore.
Picture it on my scale-
I migrated through an endless flat space full of endless new things.
Forests, mountains, tundra, canyons.
My memory sees what I saw then.
My eye sees freeways, urban sprawl, Big Macs under the Eiffel tower.
Early on, the world got bigger and bigger, and then...
Think what I've had to unlearn.
And now you're moving on.
As you've said, there's talk of my not aging, And when that happens, I move on.
Well, it might make sense to set up your next identity, Your next ten years, and then just drop into it.
I've done that a few times, even passed as my own son.
"Oh, you're an engineer, too?
You're Ben's son. He was a good man."
Saves trouble with credentials and references.
On the other hand, I've been busted a few times.
Spent a year in jail, Belgium, 1862 I won't forget that - for faking a government application.
When'd you come to America?
1890, right after Van Gogh's death, With some French immigrants...
An answer for every question.
Except one, John.
Why're you doing this?
A whim. Maybe not such a good idea.
Wanted to say good-bye to you as me, not what you thought I was.
Well, since this isn't funny, we think you might have a problem.
A very serious problem.
I've got boxes to move.
I'll give you a hand.
Wouldn't you have some relic, an artifact to remind you of your early life?
Like this, maybe?
If you lived 100... 1,000 years...
Would you still have this?
What would cause you to keep it?
As a memento to your beginnings, even if you didn't have the concept of beginnings?
It would be gone, lost.
I don't have artifacts.
You could have lied about that.
Don't talk about me while I'm gone.
Is he serious?
If he is, I'm sorry to say he's...
Oh, how could he have concealed that for ten years?
Least he doesn't appear to be dangerous.
What are you doing?
Checkin' for a hidden mic.
He's fabricating these wild stories.
I've never seen him acting like this.
Oh, it's crazy.
All right, all right, as soon as you can, then.
I love you, you know.
Since my first week at the office.
I care very much about you, but now you know what you'd be getting into.
Do you really think you're a caveman?
Could you love me, or don't you believe in that anymore?
I've gotten over it too many times.
Fond of you... certainly attracted to you.
I can work with that.
If what I'm saying is true, you and any children will age.
And one day I'll leave.
You'll go back to your May-December romances.
The simple fact is that I can't give you forever.
How long's forever?
Who ever really has it?
My parents split up before I was born, And then my mom's next marriage lasted what, a whole three years?
Then there's death, illness, acts of god...
No one knows how long they have.
Or how little.
I love you.
Take whatever you can get.
Like ten years?
Ah! Ha ha ha!
Why did you do that?
I wanted to see how fast you were. Check your reflexes.
I don't have eyes in the back of my head, I can't hear a flea walking, I am not in any way superman.
Well, I'm a second-degree black belt.
Give it another thousand years.
Well. I got it, I got it, I got it.
Smooth demonstration, Harry.
Sit on it, Dan.
I still have questions.
I-I do too, John.
I mean, are we done with prehistory yet?
Remember any of your original language?
A little. One thing hasn't changed much...
Did you ever do any cave art?
Do you know the rock art at Les Eyzies?
It was the work of a man named...
He did a pretty good job.
He would draw the animals that we hoped to find to eat.
One day after a fruitless hunt, our chief stomped his teeth out because his magic had failed him.
After that, someone had to chew his food for him.
Finally, he got- I suspect- an infected jaw, and he was abandoned.
You have to know what to kill.
Is this why all your students say your knowledge of history is... so amazing?
No, that's mostly based on study.
Remember, it's one man, one place at a time, My solitary viewpoint of a world I knew almost nothing about.
Well, let's talk about what you say you do know about:
Don't encourage him.
Next few thousand years, it got warmer.
A few thousand years-
See, now I know you're guessing.
You can't get there from here, Art.
Well then, pray, continue.
We hunted reindeer, mammoths, bison, horses, The game retreated northward as the climate changed.
You got the idea of growing food rather than gathering it, raising animals rather than hunting them.
Am-Am I getting warm, here?
I bet I am.
Lakeside living becomes commonplace, Fishing, fowling... Come on!
John, this is out of any textbook.
You got most of it right.
Eventually I headed to the east.
I'd grown curious about the world.
I'd gotten the hang of going it alone, Learning how to fit in when I wanted to.
Towards the rising sun?
Yes. I thought it might be warmer there.
That's when I saw an ocean.
The Mediterranean, probably.
It was around the beginning of the bronze age, So I followed the trade routes from the east, Copper, tin, Learning languages as I went.
Everywhere, creation myths, new gods, so many, so different.
I finally realized that it was... probably all hogwash, So I was Sumerian for 2,000 years, Then finally Babylonian under Hammurabi.
And I sailed as a Phoenician for a time.
See, moving on had been easier as a hunter-gatherer...
Difficult when villages emerged, tougher still in city states where authority was centralized.
Strangers were suspect.
It seemed as though I was always moving on.
I learned some new tricks- even faked my death a couple of times.
I continued east to India, luckily at the time of the Buddha.
Most extraordinary man I've ever known.
He taught me things I'd never thought about before.
You studied... with the Buddha?
Until he died.
He knew there was something different about me.
I never told him.
This is fascinating.
I almost wish it were true.
Yeah, if it was true, why are you telling us?
I mean, we might leave here today, Go out there, tell everybody.
It would vanish in disbelief.
A story that goes around the room.
Even if I could make you believe me, in a month, you wouldn't.
Some of you would call me a psychopath, Others would be angry at a pointless joke.
Some of us are angry now.
This-this was a bad idea.
Uh, I love you all, and I do not want to put you through anything.
Then why are you doing it?
'Cause I wanted to say good-bye-
I think you've done that, whoever that self is.
We're just grading his homework.
I see what's going on. You're playing the good cop, Dan.
That's fine. Just enjoy it.
All right, I think this whole thing is just a crock!
I should leave, but I'm gonna stay.
You know why? 'Cause I wanna see what this is all about.
So do I. What is this all about?
Let's ask Dr. Freud, who's just arrived.
Hey, Will! Will!
I'm glad I caught you.
Someone mentioned that you were leaving-
Called you, told you that I've lost it.
Glad you're here. Things are going in unexpected directions.
Yes, so I hear.
Are you hungry?
Uh, thank you, no.
Whiskey? Johnny Walker green.
You look very familiar, my dear. Linda Murphy.
I'm in your tuesday psych 1 class, Dr. Gruber.
Ah, well, this lesson may be something I could not have imagined.
I regret being so obvious about this, John, but these people are all very concerned for you.
Yes, I'm cutting out paper dinosaurs.
I really wish I'd been here from the beginning.
Let me just say something right now.
There's absolutely no way in the whole world for John to prove this story to us, just like there's no way for us to disprove it.
No matter how outrageous we think it is, no matter how highly trained some of us think we are, there's absolutely no way to disprove it.
Our friend is either a caveman, a liar, or a nut.
So while we're thinking about that, why don't we just go with it?
I mean, hell, who knows, he might jolt us into believing him, or we might jolt him back to reality.
Believing? Whose reality?
So... you're a caveman.
Uh, I was a Cro-Magnon, I think.
You don't know if you're a caveman or not?
No, I'm sure about that.
A Cro-Magnon, then.
When did you first realize this?
When the Cro-Magnon was first identified, when anthropology gave them a name, I had mine.
Well, please continue.
I'm sure you must have more to say.
Would you like me to lie on the couch?
As you wish.
As a physician, I'm curious.
In this enormous lifetime you describe, have you ever been ill?
Sure, as much as anyone.
Of what? Do you know?
In prehistory, I can't tell you.
Maybe pneumonia once or twice.
Last few hundred years, I've gotten over typhoid, yellow fever, smallpox... I survived the black plague.
Oh, that's terrible.
More so than history describes.
And smallpox. But you're not scarred.
I don't scar.
No, John, that is not possible.
Please, let's take John's story at face value and explore it from that perspective.
If he doesn't scar, it's no stranger than the rest.
John, would you please stop by my lab, suffer a few tests from your friendly neighborhood biologist.
I'm leery of labs.
Afraid I might go in and stay for a thousand years while cigarette smoking men try to figure me out.
You don't think that I would betray you?
Walls have ears.
Medical tests might be a way of proving what you say.
I don't wanna prove it.
So you're telling us this, the yarn of the century, And you don't care if we believe it or not?
I guess I shouldn't have expected you to.
You're not as crazy as you think I am.
I've always liked you.
Why, thank you, dear.
Now that's changing.
Surely you don't believe this nonsense.
I think we should remain courteous to someone who we've known and trusted, Edith.
Here you sit. You can't break his story.
All you can do is thumb your nose at it.
Is that what you're doing, John?
Are you laughing at us inside?
I wish you didn't feel that way.
What you're saying - it offends common sense.
So does relativity, quantum mechanics-
That's the way nature works.
But your story doesn't fit into nature as we know it.
But we know so little, Dan.
We know so little.
How many of you know five geniuses in your field that you disagree with...
One you would like to strangle?
Strangle them all.
It's bad enough we have to listen to Harry's idiotic jokes.
Thank you very much, Edith.
Maybe when I'm 110, I'll be as smart as you are.
If you lived as long as John did, you still wouldn't grow up.
Come on, guys. Take it easy.
How often do we get to meet someone who says he's a stone age man?
Well, once is enough.
All right. A guy with your mind- you'd have studied a great deal.
I have ten degrees, including all of yours...
Except yours, Will.
That makes me feel a trifle lilliputian.
That's over the span of 170 years.
I got my biology degree at Oxford in 1840, So I'm a little behind the times.
The same in other areas-
I can't keep up with the new stuff that comes along.
No one can.
Not even in their specialty.
So much for the myth of the super-wise, all-knowing immortal.
I see your point, John.
No matter how long a man lives, he can't be in advance of his times.
He can't know more than the best of the race knows, if that- I mean, when the world learned it was round, you learned it.
It took some time.
News traveled slowly before communications were fancy.
There were social obstacles, preconceptions, screams from the church.
That's impressive, John. Did you teach them?
You might have all done the same.
Living 14,000 years didn't make me a genius.
I just had time.
We can't see it, we can't hear it, we can't weigh it, we can't measure it in a laboratory.
It's a subjective sense of becoming what we are instead of what we were a nanosecond ago, becoming what we will be in another nanosecond.
The Hopis see time as a landscape, existing before and behind us, and we move-- we move through it, slice by slice.
Clocks measure time.
No, they measure themselves.
The objective referent of clock is another clock.
How very interesting. What has it got to do with John?
Oh, he- he might be a man who lives outside of time as we know it.
Yes, uh, well.
People do go around armed these days.
If I shot you, John... You're immortal?
Would you survive this?
I never said I was immortal, just old.
I might die.
And then you could wonder the rest of your incarcerated life what you shot.
Well, uh, may I?
Preferable to a gun.
Will, that was a bit much.
Yes, you have grown and changed.
But there is always innate nature.
Wouldn't you be more comfortable squatting in the backyard?
Sometimes I do, Will.
Look up at the stars.
And what did primitive man make of them?
A great mystery.
There were gods up there then.
Shamans who knew about them told us.
They still do.
Have you ever wished it would end?
Fourteen thousand years.
Injuries, illness, disasters.
You've survived them all.
You're a very lucky man.
Charity now. We're here to pick up the furniture.
It's all yours.
Here, take this chair.
I'm gonna go drink in the corner.
You're, uh... you're donating it?
I'll get more.
Do you always travel this light?
It's the only way to move.
You've talked a good deal about your extraordinary amount of living.
What do you think of dying, John?
Do you fear death?
How did primitive man regard death?
Well, we had the practical concept.
You know, we stopped, fell down, didn't get up, Started to smell bad, come apart.
Injuries we could understand.
If someone's insides were all over the ground.
They were, uh, mysterious.
The biggest mystery of all.
You realized you were different.
Longer to realize how I was different, to find a way to synthesize my experience into a view of myself.
At first, I thought everybody had something wrong with them.
They got old and they died, animals, too... but not me.
Oh, forgive me, my dear.
You live simply.
I've owned castles, but why leave a lot if you're always leaving?
I have money.
What, you get into AT&T at 50 cents, John?
As one grows older, the days, weeks, months go by more quickly.
What does a day or a year or a century mean to you?
The birth-death cycle?
I meet someone, learn their name, say a word, they're gone.
Others come like waves. Rise, fall.
Ripples in a wheat field, blown by the wind.
Do you ever get tired of it all?
I get bored now and then.
They keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over.
Then you see yourself as separate from the rest of humanity.
I didn't mean it that way.
But of course...
Are you comfortable knowing that you have lived while everyone you knew Everyone you knew, John! - has died?
I've regretted losing people... often.
Have you ever felt guilt about that, something akin to survivor's guilt?
In the strict psychological sense?
I suppose I have.
But what can I do about it?
I'm sorry, ma'am.
I'm gonna keep the couch.
Ladies? Will? Oh, no...
You've got a heart condition. Don't grump about it.
Hey, how about changing the subject, Will?
Enough with the- with the dying.
But this is the flip side of his coin, Harry.
I'm very curious to know his feelings.
Would you prefer I asked him about his father?
I thought you always started with
"Tell me about your mother."
Yes, but prehistory was strongly patriarchal.
Surely you remember your father.
I seem to remember a figure, Perhaps an older brother, a social father, maybe.
Well, no matter.
I can scarcely remember mine.
Do you feel a vacancy in your life about that, John, something you wish could be filled by a face, a voice, an image?
Not at this late date.
There must be someone - probably many - that you valued intensely.
You saw them age and die - a friend, a colleague, a wife.
Certainly you've had wives and children?
I'd move on.
I had to move on.
Making him history's biggest bigamist.
Have you ever in your life thought
"It should have been me"?
Yeah, Art has told me that some of your early fellows feared you were stealing their lives.
Have you thought that perhaps you were?
Perhaps you are!
There have always been legends of such a thing, a creature not quite human taking not the blood, but the life force itself?
My God, Will.
Unconsciously, perhaps, by some biological or psychic mechanism that we can only guess at.
I'm not saying you would do such a thing deliberately.
I'm not saying that you would even know how to...
But would such a thing be fair?
So you believe me now?
I'm only exploring what you have said.
Whether I believe it or not is of no importance.
We will die.
You will live.
Will you come to my funeral, John?
You've gone too far.
John didn't ask to be what he is.
And we did not ask to hear about it.
But if it were true, is there one among us who would not feel envy, even perhaps a touch of hatred?
You told us of yourself, John.
Can you imagine how we feel?
I never thought of that.
Since you may not die, while we most assuredly will...
There must be a reason for that, no?
Perhaps you are an expert.
Uh, that's it, Mr. Oldman. Have a good one.
Thank you. You too.
Or are you a vampire, John?
Even an unknowing one.
Do you stand alive and tall in a graveyard that you helped to fill?
That's going too far.
Bored, perhaps lonely, because your heart cannot keep its treasures.
Is that what you're doing?
Have you led a wrongful life?
Well, then, perhaps it is time to die.
Wait a minute, now.
Look, I don't know what John is doing, But I sure as hell don't like what you're doing.
Give me that gun or I'm gonna break your goddamn arm.
You sound like our football coach, Dan.
What do you think, John?
A shot to the arm?
Perhaps we could watch it heal.
A bullet in the head...
What exactly will happen?
I have papers to correct.
As much as I dislike that job, it'll be preferable to this.
I leave you with it.
What the hell was that all about?
Where'd he get a gun?
He had you on the ropes, John.
Are you really so damn smart?
It's not like Will.
Mary passed away yesterday.
She had, uh, pancreatic cancer.
I didn't know about Mary.
I'm sorry. I can see how this might have hit you.
Please, permit me to be infantile by myself.
What the hell were you thinking, Art?
Oh, come on. Something had to be done.
I have to say I agree.
And he's our friend.
Whatever else on Earth is going on, He's our friend!
You sure about that?
Why are you being so hard on him?
One of my favorite people has disappeared.
Can you get Alzheimer's at 35?
Maybe I'm trying to wake him up.
Maybe I'm too sad to cry.
What I said about myself hurt him.
He struck back expertly.
That stuff about stealing life forces?
I've always wondered about the reasons.
Well, we still have an afternoon to kill, right?
I have a charade, and it is just for you.
Sandy, come here.
Come on, come on, come on.
Okay, this one's for you.
My first wedding?
There you go.
There you go!
Very good, and I bet at least one of us is your direct descendent.
And I didn't even send a Christmas card.
Christmas card? What about a birthday card?
And don't even get me started on the candles... with the blowing and the for years with the blowing.
Yeah, all right. I tried.
Well, uh, call me underdeveloped, but I'd like to hear more.
You double-damn swear this isn't some cockamamie science fiction story or... you're pulling on us?
You-You-You realize this is an invitation to men in white suits with happy pills.
Think about it.
A mechanism allowing survival for thousands of years?
Run out of room even faster.
Then we'd have to go to Mars as a colony as we expanded, as we'd have to.
I'd like that.
On a planet of another star.
I envy you.
Did you have a pet dinosaur?
They were a little bit before my time.
At least something is.
No doubt you could give us a thousand details, John, corroborating your story, from the Magdalene to the Buddha to now.
Ten thousand, and you could stay out of the books.
Oh, it's getting chilly.
Here, come over here. Join me.
That, uh, raises an interesting question, John.
Could there be others like you who escaped the aging process as you have?
Representing something terrific we don't even know about in biology.
We're learning all the time.
Yeah, but how would he know?
He doesn't wear an I.D. badge saying "yabba dabba doo."
There was a man in the 1600s.
Where were you in 1292 A.D.?
Where were you a year ago on this date?
Anyway, it was the 1600s, and I met a man, and I had a hunch that he was... like me, so I told him.
Ah. See, you said this was a first.
A crack in your story, John?
A touch of senility.
Anyway, he said yes, but from another time, another place.
We talked for two days.
It was all pretty convincing, But we couldn't be sure.
We each confirmed what the other said, but how do we know if the confirmation was genuine or an echo?
I knew I was kosher, but I thought, "maybe he's playing a game on me."
You know, a scholar of all we spoke about.
He said he was inclined with the same reservation.
Now, that's interesting.
Just as we can never be sure, even if we wanted to.
I mean, if we were sure, you couldn't be sure of that.
We parted, agreeing to keep in touch of course, we didn't - and 200 years later I thought I saw him in a train station in Brussels.
Lost him in the crowd.
Oh, what a shame.
I- I mean, if it were true.
Okay, here's one for you.
What do you do in your spare time?
Every 50 years or so, when I wanna get away from the rush, I go down to a primitive tribe in New Guinea where I'm worshipped as an immortal god, and they have a huge statue of me.
It's a big party.
Yeah, I've got a lot of pictures of it, but I've already packed them up. I'm sorry.
I won't make the obvious nasty crack about more unwashed cavemen.
Actually, bathing was the style until the middle ages when the church told us it was sinful to wash away God's dirt, so people were sewn into their underwear in October and they popped out in April.
You said you just happened.
I don't believe that.
If your story's true, why did God allow you to happen?
That makes an interesting point.
Are you religious, John?
I don't follow a known religion. No.
Long time ago I did, like most people.
Some just never get over it.
Do you believe in God?
As Laplace said, "I have no need of that hypothesis."
He may be around, though.
He's everywhere. We just can't see him.
Pfft. If this was the best I could do, I'd be hiding, too.
It's here. I'm not so sure it was created.
Maybe it's just accumulated, fields affecting fields.
What about the source of the field energies?
Wouldn't that imply a prime mover?
I'd wonder about the source of the prime mover, infinite regress, but that doesn't imply anything to me.
Back to the mystery.
It's a very old question, But there's no answer except in religious terms.
If you have faith, it's answered.
Did you ever meet any person from our religious history?
A biblical figure?
In a way.
We should skip this one.
No, no, no skipping. Come on.
No, come on!
Come on, spit it out!
Good lord! You were one of them!
This is going in a direction that I didn't expect.
I hoped it wouldn't. We... call it a night.
Come on! You were someone in religious history?
In the Bible?
Someone we know?
How could we not know someone in the Bible?
I mean somebody important.
You may think you know him, but it's mostly myth.
The entire Bible is mostly myth and allegory with maybe some basis in historical events.
You were part of that history?
Moses was based on Misis, a Syrian myth, and there are earlier versions.
All found floating on water, the staff that changed to a snake, waters that were parted so followers could be led to freedom and even receive laws on stone or wooden tablets.
One of the apostles.
They weren't really apostles.
They didn't do any real teaching.
Peter the fisherman learned a little more about fishing.
How do you know that?
The mythical overlay is so enormous... and not good.
The truth is so, so simple.
The New Testament in 100 words or less: you ready?
I don't think I wanna hear this.
Harry, will you take me home?
No, not right now. I do want to hear this.
Sit down, Edith. You act like you believe him.
How can it be sacrilege?
He hasn't said anything yet.
The new New Testament is sacrilege.
There are a dozen new New Testaments, From Hebrew to Greek to Latin to Tyndale, all the way to King James, all revisionist, and all called revealed truth.
I mean a new New Testament in 100 words.
I can give you the ten commandments in ten words:
Don't. Don't, don't, don't, Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't.
The commandments are just modern updates of more ancient laws.
That's right, they weren't the first, right?
Edith, I was raised on the Torah...
My wife, on the Koran.
My oldest son is an atheist.
My youngest is a Scientologist.
My daughter is studying Hinduism.
I imagine that there is room there for a holy war in my living room, but we practice live and let live.
Why don't you sit down?
What is your preferred version of the Bible?
The King James, of course.
It's the most modern, the work of great scholars.
Modern is good.
All right, John, hit us with the short form.
Guy met the Buddha, liked what he heard, thought about it for a while - say 500 years, while he returned to the Mediterranean, became an Etruscan.
Seeped into the Roman empire.
He didn't like what they became -
A giant killing machine.
He went to the Near East thinking, "Why not pass the Buddha's teachings on in a modern form."
So he tried.
One dissident against Rome?
The rest is history.
Well, sort of. Lot of fairy tales mixed in.
I knew it.
He's saying he was Christ.
Oh, no. That's the medal they pinned on Jesus to fulfill prophecy.
He blocked the pain as he had learned to do in Tibet and India.
He also learned to slow his body processes down to the point where they were undetectable.
They thought he was dead.
So his followers pulled him from the cross, placed him in a cave...
His body normalized as he had trained it to.
He attempted to go away undetected, but some devotees were standing watch.
Tried to explain.
They were ecstatic.
Thus, I was resurrected, and I ascended to central Europe to get away as far as possible.
You don't mean a word of this, John.
My God, why are you doing this?
Let me see your wrists.
I don't scar.
Besides, they tied me... but nails and blood make better religious art.
All the speculations about Jesus.
He was black, he was Asian, he was a blue-eyed Aryan with a golden beard and hair straight out of Vidal Sassoon's, He was a benevolent alien, he never existed at all.
Now he's a caveman.
The Christ figure goes all the way back to Krishna -
Hercules, of course.
Born of a virgin, Alcmene.
A god for a father, Zeus.
The only begotten.
The savior The greek? Soter.
The good shepherd, the prince of peace, bringing gentle persuasion and divine wisdom.
He died, joined his father on Olympus a thousand years before Gethsemane.
How can you compare pagan mythology to the true word?
Pretty damn closely, I'd say.
The early Christian leaders, they threw away Hebrew manuscripts and borrowed from pagan sources all over the place.
Do you realize how... inconsiderately you're treating my feelings?
About as inconsiderately as we're treating John's.
Well, he doesn't believe what he's saying!
Do you believe literally everything in the Bible, Edith?
Before you say it, I know it's undergone a lot of changes, But God has spoken through man to make his word clearer.
He couldn't get it right the first time?
We're imperfect! He had to work to make us understand.
He couldn't get us right the first time, Edith?
Taken alone, the philosophical teachings of Jesus are Buddhism with a Hebrew accent.
Kindness, tolerance, brotherhood, love, a ruthless realism acknowledging that life is as it is here on Earth, here and now.
The kingdom of God, meaning goodness, is right here, where it should be.
"I am what I am becoming."
That's what the Buddha brought in.
And that's what I taught.
But a talking snake make a lady eat an apple, So we're screwed.
Heaven and hell were peddled so priests could rule through seduction and terror, save our souls that we never lost in the first place.
I threw a clean pass... they ran it out of the ballpark.
This is blasphemy.
It's horrible! Who else were you?
Solomon, Elvis, Jack the ripper?
It's been said that Buddha and Jesus would laugh or cry if they'd known what was done in their name.
And if there is a creator, he'd probably feel the same way.
I see ceremony, ritual, processions, genuflecting, moaning, intoning, venerating cookies and wine, and I think...
It's not what I had in mind.
But that's Vatican flapdoodle.
It doesn't have a thing to do with God.
As you said, John, everywhere, religions... from exalting life to purging joy as a sin.
Rome does it as grand opera.
A simple path to goodness needs a supernatural roadmap.
A stupid word, I mean...
Anything that happens, happens within nature, whether we believe in it or not.
Like a 14,000-year-old caveman.
I- I-I drove for a while, and then I sat for a while.
I'm so ashamed.
And I'm freezing.
Well, come inside.
I still don't believe you, of course.
You need help.
Everybody needs help.
Yes, well, some more than others.
From the Buddha to the cross, I have always imagined both as entirely mythic - but I would like to hear more.
May I lie on the couch for a moment?
I'm not as young as I used to be.
So, you were Jesus.
Well, perhaps somebody had to be, for better or for worse.
The jury is still out.
When did you begin to believe you were Jesus?
When did you begin to believe you were a psychiatrist?
Since I graduated Harvard medical school and finished my residency, I've had that feeling.
Oh, I sometimes dream about it.
Have you acted upon this belief?
I had a private practice for a while, and then I taught.
Nothing unusual - oh, until one day, I met a caveman who thought he was Jesus.
Do you find that unusual?
Very. I would stake my reputation he is as sane as I am, so why does he persist in such a story?
There must be a reason, though.
Unless I imagined it all?
Is that possible?
I think you're as sane as he is.
Oh, God, I-
Did you ever find it prudent to worship yourself rather than be thought a heretic?
That would be something.
Other times, Christianity was considered heresy.
I had to pretend other faiths.
And what does Jesus have to say to those present who find it difficult to believe in him?
Believe in what he tried to teach, without rigmarole.
Piety is not what the lessons bring to people.
It's the mistake they bring to the lessons.
Well, it's getting to be night.
I still have stuff to carry and a long drive.
John, do you have a destination in mind?
I won't ask.
Anyone mentally ill can imagine a fantastic background, even an entire life, and sincerely believe it.
The man who thinks he is Napoleon does believe it.
His true identity has taken a backseat to his delusion and the need for it.
If that's the case with John, there is a grave disorder.
He's got an answer for everything.
It might involve rejection of his father, of his entire early past, replaced by this fantasy.
He says he can't remember his father.
You said he was sane.
Do you think that perhaps our caveman has a monkey on his back?
No, no, no, no.
I've done a lot of consulting work with narcotics.
I've seen people tripping, strung out--
Whatever's up with John, it isn't that.
I've looked for signs - none.
Could cavemen really talk?
We think that language came into existence
60,000 years ago.
The structure of stone age culture is evidence of the ability to communicate - verbally.
Oh, shut up.
Maybe it'd be easier if I were.
That is fascinating, isn't it, a brave attempt to teach Buddhism in the west.
It's no wonder he failed.
We're not ready for it.
You're talking as if you believed him.
Well, it is possible, isn't it?
I mean, anything is possible.
Look, we have two simple choices.
We can get all bent out of shape intellectualizing or bench-pressing logic, or we can simply relax and enjoy it.
I can listen critically, but I don't have to make up my mind about anything.
But you think you do?
Well, unfortunately, there's no authorities on prehistory, so we couldn't stop him there.
There are experts on the Bible.
Yeah, thus the lost years of Jesus.
He didn't exist until John put on a hat.
I don't believe in angels and the Nativity and the star in the east, but there are stories about the childhood of Jesus.
History hates a vacuum.
Improvisation, some of it very sincere, fills the gaps.
It would have been easy to falsify a past back then.
A few words, credulity... time would do the rest.
Now you're talking as if you believed him.
Well, look at the popular myths surrounding the Kennedy assassination in a few short years.
You had, uh, conspiracy, mafia, CIA.
That's a mystique that'll never go away.
It's always been a small step from a fallen leader to a god.
I don't think anybody will deify Kennedy.
We're more sophisticated than that.
Well, you're finally fulfilling one prophecy about the millennium, John.
Here you are again.
You like the fire, John.
Everywhere I've lived, I've had a fireplace.
Childhood fixation, I guess.
Helps me to feel secure.
There are predators out there.
One thing I didn't pack...
I thought I might need it.
Wouldn't Sacre du printemps be more appropriate?
You've got... four men of science completely baffled, my friend.
We-We don't know what to make of you.
Did you know Voltaire was the first to suggest that the universe was created by a gigantic explosion?
I think Paul would agree.
And then Goethe was the first to suggest that spiral nebulae were swirling masses of stars.
We now call them galaxies.
It's kind of funny how often new concepts of science find their first tentative forms of expression in the arts.
So did Beethoven do physics on the side?
He spent most of his time lying on the floor in front of his legless piano surrounded by orange peels and apple cores.
Now we're on the floor listening to Beethoven.
Did you have, um... any religious beliefs, or did you give it much thought?
You can't get there with thought.
You have faith?
In a lot of things.
Do you have faith in the future of the race?
I've seen species come and go.
Depends on their balance with the environment.
We've made a mess of it.
There's still time, if we use it well.
Christianity has been a worldwide belief for 2,000 years.
How long did the Egyptians worship Isis or the Sumerians Ishtar?
In India, sacred cows wandered freely as reincarnated souls.
In a thousand years, they'll be barbecued and their souls will be in squirrels.
You weren't Jesus!
If...it rains... It won't.
How do you know that?
I don't smell it.
I guess... a medicine man?
I was a shaman a few times.
I revealed some truths to eat a little better.
You think that's all religion is about... selling hope and survival?
The Old Testament sells fear and guilt.
The New Testament is a good code of ethics, put into my mouth by poets and philosophers that are much smarter than I am.
The message is never practiced.
Fairy tales build churches.
What about the name "Jesus"?
Did you pull that out of a hat?
I called myself John.
I almost always do.
As tales of the resurrection spread, the name was confused with the Hebrew "Yochanan,"
Meaning "God is gracious."
My stay on Earth was seen as divine proof of immortality.
That led to "God is salvation" or Hebrew "Yahshua," which in translation became my proper name, changing to late Greek, "Iesous," then to late Latin, "Iesus," and finally medieval Latin, "Jesus," and it was a wonder to watch it all happen.
Then you didn't claim to be the son of God?
Began as a schoolhouse and ended as a temple.
I said I had a master that was greater than myself.
I never said he was my father.
I wanted to teach what I learned.
I never claimed to be king of the Jews, I never walked on water, I never raised the dead.
I never spoke of divine except in the sense of human goodness on Earth.
No wise men came from the east to worship at a manger.
I did do a little healing with some eastern medicine I'd learned.
The three wise men began as a myth about the birth of the Buddha.
John, I should be home, uh, kissing my wife.
We're all here, trapped by your story... hoping for a... revolution? I don't know.
Are there any, uh... more revelations for us?
It's just like old times.
You weren't Jesus.
Quote the sermon on the mount.
Darby, King James, new American standard?
Do you know them all?
No one knows the one, not even me.
I did some teaching on a hill one day.
Not that many people stayed.
Biblical Jesus said, "Who do you think I am?"
He gave them a choice.
I'm giving you one.
If I said no, could you ever be sure?
Turn that off.
This has gone far enough.
It's gone much too far.
These people are very upset.
I don't believe you're mad, But what you're saying is not true.
That leaves only one explanation.
The time has come when you must admit this is a hoax...
Isn't that true, John?
If you don't drop this now If you can -
I'll be convinced that you need a great deal of attention.
I can have you committed for observation.
You know that.
I ask you now I demand it - that you tell these people the truth.
Give them closure.
It's time, John.
End of the line. Everybody off.
It was a story.
It was all a story.
Another fairy tale?
All of it? But what--?
What in the name of heaven...?
John, you had us wondering whether you were sane or not, and it's just a story!
Where'd you come off with such a half-baked, asinine idea?
At least you're relieved I'm not a nut.
I'd prefer you were!
You gave me the idea.
All of you.
Edith saw my fake Van Gogh.
You could have just told me.
You commented that I never age.
You gave me the book on early man.
Dan, you spotted the burin and you said, "if stones could speak."
I knew it.
I got the notion, I ran it past you to check your reactions, and I took it too far.
Check my reaction.
You asked if I was a figure from religious history, if there were others like me, if I'd created future identities.
We were chasing our tails around the maypole, enjoying the mystery, the analytical stretch.
You were playing my game!
I was playing yours.
Oh, man, you know, you had us going, right?
You were good, man.
You know those Chinese boxes, one inside the other inside the other inside the other?
I feel like I'm in the last box.
You son of a... bitch!
How could you do this to us?
I was worried about you.
I know, I was tempted to cop out many times, But I couldn't resist seeing whether or not you could refute what I was saying.
I had the perfect audience.
Anthropologist, archaeologist, Christian literalist... a psychologist.
Okay, I've had enough of this.
I'm outta here. You wanna come? Let's go.
Are you gonna write the story?
If I do, I'll send you copies.
Don't bother with mine, okay?
You are absolutely certifiable.
I don't know you!
It was nice seeing you again, Dr. Oldman.
Your name's a pun, isn't it?
Did that help you with your story?
Well, Art was half right.
Well, at least I don't have to throw away half of what I know about biology.
It's a beautiful idea, so rich, so full of possibilities.
Perhaps you should write a paper on it, doctor.
Maybe I will.
I'll interview you in the rubber room for further details.
You may still need help, my friend.
I thought it sounded pretty good.
They believe you because they have to.
But the one thing that I know about you is that you would never use people or abuse their goodwill and intelligence like they think you've just done to them.
No, it's woman, one-on-one.
So you're a pretty fast liar, Mr. Ugg, But I wanna know: What's your real name?
Believe it or not, the sound was always John.
Why'd you cave to Gruber?
What happened was enough.
Just- just needed to stop.
I shouldn't have expected it to work.
Fourteen thousand years old.
I bet that's a lot of women.
Are we counting?
Well, I'm taking Edith home.
I'm gonna stay.
Are you sorry for some of those things you said?
I'm sorry I said them.
Like a good Christian, I... oh, John.
You did a terrible thing, but we're all so thankful you're all right.
Even Art. He just hates things he can't understand.
You're a sadist, John, But I admit I got a kick out of chasing my tail around your maypole...
Even if that is all I caught.
Good luck to you.
Wish you the best. Thank you.
Later on. Okay, good night.
I don't know, man.
Something about this... something about you, John.
The more I think about it, the more I'm no longer in that Chinese box.
I sense... space.
A kinda latitude of what we happily call reality, in which, as everybody keeps saying... anything's possible.
Yes. No, no. No, no.
No. No more words.
I'm gonna go home, and I'm gonna watch Star Trek for a dose of sanity.
Good luck to you, man, wherever this may lead you.
You drop me a line sometime.
Let me know how you're making out.
So, John Oldman.
What other pun names have you used?
John Paley for John Paleolithic, John Savage...
Got really crazy about 60 years ago, when I was teaching at Harvard, I was John Thomas Partee.
John T. Partee - Boston tea party.
I get it.
Yeah, I know.
Wait, wait, wait.
60 years ago?
You did not teach chemistry! I do not believe you!
Your mother's name was Nola.
I reject this!
My-My-My dog's name.
We had him before I was born.
Woof, woof, woofie...
Gruber. She remarried?
She said you abandoned us.
Sorry, I had to move on.
You know that. I left enough.
I left enough. I'm cold.
Chilly Willy, always cold.
Never could stand the cold.
Wait, you-- you had a beard.
Yeah, you used to tug on it to see if it was real.
Come on, Will.
Come on, buddy.
You'll stay in touch, Dr. Oldman, in case there are any questions.
I'll be back for the funeral.
You never saw a grown child die.