Despite this hilarious shallowness of this trailer, The Brother From Another Planet actually presented a number of deep ideas. A few days ago, I watched it, and some of the obvious themes were immigration (“the brother” crash lands on Ellis Island), migration, fugitivity (he is on the run from two white alien bounty hunters and compares himself to the runaway slave in the museum) and racial and cultural otherness (his musical motif sounds like steelpans and one of the Latino characters thinks he is from a Latin American country).
More importantly is that “the brother” is silent throughout the entire film. For me, it represented the erasure of cultural and immigrant difference and the price of assimilation in the United States . It could also apply to anyone who is considered an “other” in general. Everyone else was able to project onto the character what they thought he was, but he could never say he was from outer space because he could not speak. To them, he was just another brother, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I can relate to that due to my parents being Caribbean immigrants and while I do consider myself as a black person, I realize that my family comes from another black experience, which sometimes is not acknowledged. How many people do we know that are considered “black American,” but have heritage in other countries?
Another important part of the film that also stood out was the empathy of the character. Not only does he use his hands to fix broken items and wounds, but he also uses his hands to sense memories and spirits in different objects. Also, his silence allows him to be a better listener and observer. I think this is another type of “alien perspective,” in that a person can view a world in the eyes of another. This is especially true when “the brother” comes upon a young boy who has died from a drug overdose, and he places the needle in his arm to experience what the boy did out of curiosity. Then, “the brother” goes on journey with the Rasta Virgil to see the bleakness and despair of Harlem at night. Inspired after seeing the drug dealers on the street, he eventually tracks down the man at the top of the drug dealing chain, a rich businessman, and does to him what has happened to the boy. A tragic lesson in treating others the way you want to be treated. Interestingly, together “the brother’s” ambiguous origins, fugitive status, and empathy brings him into another world of “others.”