7.4/10
3,897
41 user 33 critic

Zemlya (1930)

Unrated | | Drama | 17 October 1930 (USA)
In the peaceful countryside, Vassily opposes the rich kulaks over the coming of collective farming.
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stepan Shkurat ...
Opanas (as S. Shkurat)
Semyon Svashenko ...
Vasili 'Basil' Opanas (as S. Svashenko)
...
Vasili's Sister (as Yu. Solntseva)
Yelena Maksimova ...
Natalya - Vasili's Fiancee (as Ye. Maksimova)
Nikolai Nademsky ...
Semyon 'Simon' Opanas (as N. Nademsky)
Ivan Franko ...
Arkhip Whitehorse - Khoma's Father (as I. Franko)
Pyotr Masokha ...
Khoma 'Thomas' Whitehorse (as P. Masokha)
Vladimir Mikhaylov ...
Village Priest (as V. Mikhajlov)
Pavel Petrik ...
Young Party-Cell Leader (as P. Petrik)
P. Umanets ...
Chairman of the Village Farm Soviet
Ye. Bondina ...
Farm Girl
Luka Lyashenko ...
Young Kulak (as L. Lyashenko)
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Storyline

Dovzhenko's "film poem" style brings to life the collective experience of life for the Ukranian proles, examining natural cycles through his epic montage. He explores life, death, violence, sex, and other issues as they relate to the collective farms. An idealistic vision of the possibilities of Communism made just before Stalinism set in and the Kulack class was liquidated, "Earth" was viewed negatively by many Soviets because of its exploration of death and other dark issues that come with revolution. Written by Jeff Walker <star5780@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Release Date:

17 October 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Soil  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1991 Kino video)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Opanas: As my Basil was killed for a new life, so I'm asking you to bury him in a new way.
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Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Le contrôle de l'univers (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Humbling - the masterpiece of Soviet cinema.
20 December 2000 | by See all my reviews

'Earth' purports to be about people and history, about the huge traumas violent lurches in history can cause, as one period gives way to the next, especially when the first has been engrained into the psyche of a people for centuries. But, as the title suggests, the film is really about the earth, nature, as it opens and closes with two stunning emanations of a pantheistic spirit, as the wind blows over a vast meadow, creating a violent wave-like moment in an immoveable space, or the final montage of spring, renewal, fruit, sun, rain, following on from the delirious dramatic symphony, as a number of plot-points converge to the point of frenzy.

Nature is as subject to violence and change as the human order - is this what Dovzhenko is saying? Or rather, does immemorial, unchanging nature stand indifferent to the petty problems of man? In that opening hymn, any human activity is stilled, at one with nature, as a young girl stares with less personality and force than a neighbouring sunflower. Throughout, at moments where the human crises are at their most compelling, Dovzhenko emphasises nature, the monumental, dumb animals who observe the scenes with godlike calm; the huge skyscapes that obscure the apparent drama of the tractor arrival. Human poses that emphasise power are quickly cut down to size, reduced to mere heads. Even the rhythmic montage of industrial activity the tractor brings in its wake suggests the accelerated cycle of the seasons. And I thought only the Archers or King Vidor know anything about filming nature.

This is not to say that human activity is rendered pointless. Set against, or, rather, co-existing with the powerful sense of nature is an ennobling of humanity. This is a story about peasants, of whom there were nameless millions in Russia, and yet Dovzhenko films their drama as a Wagnerian epic, a real Twilight of the Gods. The opening sequence, as an old man dies, has a mesmeric, ritual, monumental quality, increased by the reverential pacing, the awareness of death, the deliberate gestures, the iconic close-ups.

The music throughout, for my money worthy of Herrman and Morricone (i.e. the best) has an epic Wagnerian quality; here it is hushed, foreboding; later dissonant violence clashes with Romantic outpouring and dramatic intensity, all with a cyclic, fluid, unstable rush - that final symphony I mentioned, the hero's funeral, overpowers with its combination of music, montage, narrative and image.

Only the myopic and American could possibly see this masterpiece as propagandist. Dovzhenko utilises many of the 'intellectual' methods of Eisenstein, but continually disrupts them, collapsing political dialectics into a mystical, paganistic, spiritual ejaculation, with narrative always secondary to feeling - Vasili's death, a possessed dance at the crossroads; the old man who tries to communicate with the dead. The closing images of resurrection are all a staggering two fingers to materialism and socialist realism.


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