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M. Leary

Earth (1930)

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I do not recall seeing this pop up in our conversations around the Top 100, but it is not hard to tell why Dovzhenko's film was treasured by Tarkovsky. There are many visual and thematic touchstones for Tarkovsky's cinema in this hour-long silent. Stunning natural cinematography throughout. The opening shot in particular will be familiar to Stalker fans. We also see precursors to Dreyer's love of close-ups, as Earth is full of odd match cuts between faces as the spare dialogue swaps back and forth. It is rich with brief, but elegant funeral scenes, and closes with a stunning double-montage (which I imagine was a technical feat at the time). I am not expert enough with Soviet cinema of this era to tease out comparisons to Pudovkin and Eisenstein, politically or formally. 

The film pits collectivism against both the local landowner and the local priest. It was censored and panned by Soviet critics, though I find the political backstory elusive. With that in mind, its overlapping interests in nature, social networks, and modernity has clear genetic links to Tarkovksy's work.

Freely available online, given its age. 


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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