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Hazel Woodus is a beautiful but innocent country girl who loves all the creatures around her, especially her pet fox cub. She is given a rough time by her father but can escape to run barefoot through the woods when her harsh life gets too much for her. It is there that she is found by the local squire, Jack Reddin, finds her and is struck by her beauty. The obvious conflict develops when the squire leads the local hunt and tries to kill Hazel's pet fox. The title "Gone to Earth" is taken from the huntsmans cry when the target is no longer obtainable. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I saw this glorious film when it first appeared. The following week I tracked it down to a small London cinema where they screened single films continuously several times a day without supporting features. I hadn't intended seeing it more than once on this occasion but I can recall being so mesmerised that I watched the programme through three times. Clearly I was out of step with the climate of critical opinion. The reviewers had slated it and the audience around me was distinctly hostile. There was a lot of fidgeting and derisory shouts. Quite a few walked out. Behaviour was often bad in British cinemas in the 'fifties particularly if viewers got bored. The manager called the police in during a screening I attended a few years later of "The Trouble WIth Harry" and I can even remember screaming at the usherettes to stop talking when I first saw "A Face in the Crowd". I had to wait many years before I heard good things being said about "Gone to Earth". It was in 1988 when someone introduced a showing of it on British television most enthusiastically. Whatever one thinks about the relative merits of Powell and Pressburger's films (I am clearly in a minority in thinking this their finest) there is no doubt that they are now appreciated in a way they never were when they first appeared. But if passion for what is still considered one of their minor works may seem rather over the top, let me say but one thing; where else in the whole of cinema is there a more haunting and magical evocation of English landscape! Christopher Challis, a brilliant cinematographer, is the real star of the film. Undoubtedly (and this is perhaps at the core of its original problems) style matters more than content. The plot is little more than Victorian melodrama - lecherous squire deflowers simple country girl who has married local vicar - and the dialogue is curiously stilted. However this hardly matters in a work cinematically choreographed with such brilliance. The final foxhunting sequence, where the film's many strands are brought together, is visually and aurally one of the most spellbinding in all cinema. The huntsman's cry of "Gone to earth!" at the very end has haunted me for well over half a lifetime.
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