Combustible Celluloid
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With: Semyon Svashenko, Mikola Nademsy, Stephan Shkurat, Yelena Maximova, Yulia Solntseva
Written by: Alexander Dovzhenko
Directed by: Alexander Dovzhenko
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Silent with English intertitles
Running Time: 70
Date: 04/08/1930

Earth (1930)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

This Land

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though virtually unknown today, Aleksandr Dovzhenko's silent filmEarth (1930) received high praise almost immediately. It has beena top contender in several polls of the greatest films ever made. It's asimple propaganda piece that overcomes its flaws through gracefulcinematography and editing. The story of a farm collective that obtainsa tractor pales next to the images of man trying and failing to controlhis element. Birth, death and rebirth takes place no matter how maninterferes. To that end, Dovzhenko continually squashes his human formsto the bottom of the frame, giving precedence to the sky and thehorizon.

DVD Details: Earth appears on Kino's Three Soviet Classics (1930, Kino, $29.95), packaged with two other films: Vsevolod Pudovkin's short film Chess Fever (1925) and feature film The End of St. Petersburg (1927). Chess Fever is a vibrant little comedy that could have been made by Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd about a man's obsession with chess and his fiancee's frustration. I haven't yet viewed The End of St. Petersburg but will follow up with a few notes when I do.

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