Some Soviet films from the 1920s occasionally feel like work, but not this one. By general consensus, Earth is among the most exalted of all silent films. Alexander Dovzhenko drew upon memories of his rural Ukrainian childhood for this lyrical ode to peasants (in true Soviet fashion, they are radicalized by the arrival of a new tractor). What is so remarkable about the film is not merely the visual poetry, but Dovzhenko's earthy (there is no other word for it) appreciation for the human being: a grandfather pauses in his dying to gobble up a ripe pear, farmers urinate into the radiator of the overheated tractor, a child happily munches on a melon after a tragic death. Dovzhenko embraces it all, and his image of a man dancing alone on a moonlit road is one of the cinema's great expressions of simple joy. This is a true masterwork. --Robert Horton
Alexander Dovzhenko, one of the four giants of early Soviet revolutionary cinema, shattered the film world with his silent masterpiece "Earth," even though few outside the director's native Ukraine connected with its specific references to place and topic. But the deep feeling and poetic imagery of this film transcends locale and era, moves strong men to tears and has frequently won it a place on critics' lists of the greatest films of all time.
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