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Tierra
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Reviews & Ratings for
Earth More at IMDbPro »Tierra (original title)

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Medem's masterpiece

9/10
Author: Darragh O' Donoghue (hitch1899_@hotmail.com) from Dublin, Ireland
26 January 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you tell a story through a certain protagonist's mind, your film is going to take on the qualities of that mind. Medem's typically ambiguous TIERRA, is one of the masterpieces of 90s cinema, and has not so much an open ending as an open beginning and in-between as well. Its hero is either deranged or a heavenly spirit, and, seen through his eyes, the world, and the film, take on an otherworldly strangeness.

As with all Medem's films, TIERRA operates on two levels of meaning - the surface narrative, and the underlying composition of image and form. Both levels interact much more fluidly, though, here, creating a work that always seems to make enough sense, and yet, when you think about it, only increases in bewildering enigma. The film starts with a voiceover talking to someone called Angel through the cosmos, informing him of the job he has to do, showing him the island he will be working on, and warning him of the mysteries riddled therein.

Angel turns out to be an insect fumigator, come to destroy the woodlice that are infesting the island's vineyards. On the way he comes across gypsies minding sheep, and the shepherd who was struck down by lightening, momentarily resuscitated by another volt before dying again. Angel hires the gypsies, and visits the first farmer, Tomas, in mourning for his recently deceased wife. He has a daughter, Angela, with whom he falls in love. Angel later befriends her husband, Patricio, who nearly kills him while out shooting the equally pestilant wild boars, but they come into conflict when Patricio's sex-mad mistress, Mari, shows insatiable interest in Angel.

The never resolved crux of the film turns on whether Angel is really an angel, or, as his history of psychiatric care would suggest, a madman. Once we find out that he was once mad, we assume that all his visions and heightenings of reality are the effects of a troubled mind. Angel himself yearns for simplicity and unity, but is constantly being torn apart. Despite the vast expansiveness of the land he finds himself in, he is continually hemmed in, by repetition, patterns. The woman he loves, and her daughter share his name, the latter's teacher has that of her husband.

He has a constant feeling of deja vu though he denies ever having been in the place before, even if it's some coincidence that his psychiatric warden should have a new job here. Events throughout the film repeat and turn in on themselves - the bug fumigation and boar-hunt, each evincing different levels of Angel's control. His persistant attempts to master his environment, his mind, his desires, the universe, are like the preposterously intricate patterning of a mad man. His self literally divides in front of him, he talks to himself.

The status of the image in front of us is always unstable - we don't know whether he's imagining it or not. His mental troubles extend to physicality, and the film seems to adopt Bunuel's tactic in THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE, with two different women representing different elements of sexuality open to Angel - quiet, maternal, nurturing on the one hand, and red hot sex on the other.

But even this misogynistic dichotomy is complicated - the two women are separate, independent beings in their own right, not 'aspects' of woman; and whereas Fernando Rey was an image of besieged masculine unity, Angel is, as I have mentioned, completely at odds with himself. It is he who becomes Bunuel's woman, he who is split. The women refuse their stereotyped roles - the 'quiet' one is desperate for sex, after years of loveless marriage, as well as warmth and sympathy, while the nympho is trying to find love after years of promiscuity. Angel's troubles extend to his control over his narrative, his switching back and forth between times, spaces and realms; his splitting between narrated and narrating self; his adding new elements and information to past events, playing with both ellipsis and excess of point of view, rendering all information deeply unreliable.

All of this would be quite conclusive proof of madness. Even his facility with the dead could be simply imaginary. But what of his reuniting Tomas with his dead wife - can this JUST be empathy? Ditto the profuse Biblical symbolism and allusionism. What about his transformation of the mere EARTH into an otherworldy planet, with its Martian red surface and spacemen fumigators? Maybe madness is otherworldly, acccessing the madman to plains of insight and experience inaccessible to the ordinary person. This isn't a crass way of saying that the 'mad' are more special than the 'normal' are - maybe we castigate as mad anyone without our tunnel vision. Angel is the director of the film - his formal ordering is the film's - as VACAS suggested, maybe the only way to see anew is to cast off the normal.

If I've made TIERRA seem like too much of a riddle than a film than I'm an idiot. Its brilliance lies in, as the title suggests, grounding such wispy concerns. Every character IS a character, with their own sadnesses, failures, lusts and needs - Angel's vision, though repeatedly self-serving, is always empathetic. The film is also wonderfully funny, with one excellent sequence of sex farce, mixed with some blacker, more brutal comedy.

One sits in awe at Medem's cinematic mastery, his adept handling of both long shot and extreme close-up, the wider view and the crucial detail. He plays with narrative like it is plastercine, the seemingly solid infinitely pliable, like the earth covered with louses. In a film obsessed with death, he assserts life and the comic spirit, accomodating, not refuting, the abyss. Human beings, like Angel, are too complicated to 'understand' - we must simply accept and enjoy the confusion.

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

amazingly amazing

10/10
Author: (soulcharmer) from Brno, Czech Rep.
24 March 2004

It would be easy to let your personality split in two if you'll get caught in situation like Angel from Tierra did. Except he had kinda split personality in advance...

I guess you've never seen story about love this exceptional. There's a lot of strong symbolism, compelling plot, absolutely perfect camera, absolutely lovely characters, flawless acting, dreamy atmosphere, unexpected twists in storyline and more.

In whole this movie is special, original and ultimately appealing. I tried to find something to reproach, some imperfection, and though I've already seen the movie three times over the years, I can't help but to award it with 10 out of 10.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful movie

9/10
Author: Tomas Polakovic from Slovakia
4 November 2002

It is a beautiful movie (as most of Medem's movies are), visually absolutely stunning, with very good actors and a very human(istic) plot. It sometimes gets complicated, sometimes it does not make too much sense, but at the end it does not really matter. Probably the best way to enjoy this film is to let the images guide you into their dizzying magical world and you will then feel deep inside what it is all about.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Not for the lazy brained

9/10
Author: Joe Mabel from Seattle, WA
20 December 1999

I liked this film a great deal. Medem is a wonderful director, who can take you for more of a ride with plot alone than most other directors can do with special effects: keep your brain in high gear to follow this story.

Among other twists, we are left to wonder just how much is Angel's hallucination and how much is really occurring. The only fault I can find with the film is that this is not left even more open: I'd rather not know that there is any particular reason to doubt Angel's sanity.

I loved the notion of an exterminator (named Angel, no less) sent to kill off an epidemic of burrowing insects that change the flavor of the local wine, even though he rather likes the altered taste, as do at least some of the locals. I also felt that the theme of a man being drawn carnally to one woman and equally strongly (but less physically) to another, while it has been explored often -- too often -- has seldom been explored better or in a manner more appropriate to the cinema.

Settle back with a glass of Rioja and watch it. Maybe twice.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A complicated movie about a complicated person

8/10
Author: Rodrigo Marques Monteiro (rodmont@ig.com.br) from São Paulo, Brazil
20 April 2000

The title of my text may give you the impression that i disliked this movie...Untrue!!! It's the best Spanish movie I've ever seen!

The great highlight of this "complicated" movie (it's full of nonsense) is the introspective point of view of the main character Angel, who judges himself a complicated person. Indeed he is! And who's not?

In this movie you share every thought (and even hallucinations) of Angel. At first sight, his thoughts may seem to be a bit weird for you, but for sure your deep thoughts would be weird for me as well. So what we have in this movie is a nice trip inside Angels head... And although I felt sometimes that Angel's completely insane, I couldn't help to identify myself with him sometimes...

So, if you're a great fan of movies with a "well-established" plot, with "good guys" and "bad guys", and in which everything is crystal clear, just don't waste your time with this movie. But if you're not, then let yourself go deep into the tierra.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Understated mood quasi-masterpiece

9/10
Author: Heather from West Hollywood
24 March 2002

After seeing "Sex and Lucia" by writer-director Julio Medem, I decided to rent this film and was gratified with one of the best works of international cinema. From the beginning we are fascinated by the world introduced through the main character, an agricultural technician supposedly recently out of a mental hospital. Along the way we get to doubt most everything. We experience a different world that opens up with unexpected violence and repressed longing. The cinematography, production design and performances are extraordinary until the very end, which as with most Julio Medem films happen to be a commercial cop-out of sorts. In the last two minutes, when it all goes in one direction, the writer-director insists in imposing his (overly sentimental) views on his tormented characters and previously constructed world. Rather than let things go towards their ultimate logical consequences and grand finale, it makes for a silly little ending. Still, a must video rent if you want a thought piece with humor and thriller elements.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant!

10/10
Author: iamito from Portugal
27 June 2001

At first it looks like a very unusual movie. The main character's Voice-Overs, etc.. But the movie gradually gains very strong ideas. Great photography, great actors and actresses... It's just amazing. I don't know much about the Spanish cinema but this is my favorite spanish movie so far. Definitely.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A brilliant Spanish fantasy.

8/10
Author: raymond-15 from Australia
28 February 2000

"Tierra" is an interesting metaphysical Spanish fantasy with an unusual central character called Angel who by his own admission is half man, half angel, and he also admits to a turn in hospital to cure his hyperactive imagination. What's more , he's a first class fumigator who with the help of casual gypsy labour rids the soil of woodlice. The story opens in vineyard country, red dry undulating fields of gnarled vines, swirling red dust before an approaching storm, a lightning strike that splits a tree in half and kills a shepherd and some of his lambs. A great dramatic introduction that sets the scene for what is to follow. The film does not explain how the presence of woodlice gives the wine an earthy flavour which is said to be most desirable. The camera work is great, especially in the fumigation scene where the recruited workers dressed in white protective clothing move methodically through the red vineyards with their probing tubes, the white fumes swirling around them. They look like extra-terrestrial beings. There are numerous references to the dimensions of the universe, to the spaciousness of creation. The film starts with a panoramic vision of the stars and ends with a flight of birds wheeling in the sky. Yes, producer Medem works on a broad canvasa with incredible artistry. The love interest in the film is provided by Angela, a farmer's wife in love with the newly-arrived Angel, and Mari a sexy little thing in tight Spanish leather who frequents the bars and is quite a deft hand at billiards too. Her snake-like movements are very seductive and Angel begins to admire them, too,but being half angel has its own special problems. I like particularly the hospital scene where Angel's uncle says there is a charming girl waiting to see him. Is it Angela or Mari? We are teased for quite some time before her identity is revealed. I liked too the stark white hospital room- such a contrast to the red sweep of the Spanish countryside. Most of all I liked Gomez as Angel. What a charmer!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Intense as well as offbeat drama with top-notch acting , superb photography and sensitive soundtrack

7/10
Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
16 November 2013

Spanish production with fine acting , colorful cinematography and rousing score by Alberto Iglesias . Julio Medem directed the film for Sogetel and Lolafilms and it was released in 1995 . Set in the Aragon region, this interesting and thought-provoking film dealing with a story of a solitary man named Angel , a strange young who comes to rid a small Spanish town of pests in the lands . The local wine-making industry has found these bugs responsible for giving their product an "earthy" taste that has worried local opinion . Meantime in the little town , Angel becomes involved with two gorgeous and very diverse females , the simple and shy Angela (Emma Suarez) , and the sex-hungry Mari (Silke) , both of whom impact deeply on his life . Furthermore , other rare characters such as Patricio (Karra Elejalde) and a Pub's owner named Alberto (Nancho Novo) appear in his life .

This is a slow-paced , deliberate though magnetic rural drama .It contains marvelous cinematography , breathtaking musical score and enjoyable production design . It is a riveting film though sometimes a little boring and overlong . Anyway, the film is interesting , thematically intriguing and strange ; Medem has his own style of telling a story . It is excellently played by a magnificent plethora of main actors such as Carmelo Gomez , Emma Suarez , Silke and Karra Elejalde , Julio Medem's ordinary . Very good acting by Carmelo Gomez as Angel, unsettling with a "ghost" of himself , he is a tiny grubs exterminator recently released from a mental hospital ; however , Antonio Banderas was supposed to play Ángel in the film, but due to schedule problems, director Julio Medem replaced him with Carmelo . Excellent performance by two beautiful women -Emma Suarez , Silke- who impact on a great scale about Angel/Carmelo Gomez life . Good support cast gives right performance and full of prestigious players such as Nancho Novo as Alberto , Txema Blasco as Tomás , Miguel Palenzuela as Tío Ángel and Pepe Viyuela as Ulloa . Intriguing as well as evocative musical score mirroring well the scenery, its people and the story line, it was superbly composed by several times Oscar nominated Alberto Iglesias , Julio Medem's usual . In addition , a spotless pictorial cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe and a willingness , almost perfect of the elements of each shot , every sequence , every space ; being rightly filmed in Calatayud, Cariñena, Cosuenda , Paniza , Zaragoza, Aragón . Aguirresarobe subsequently would make a prestigious career in Hollywood such as ¨Fright night , ¨The twilight saga: eclipse¨, ¨The road¨ , ¨The others¨ and many others .

The motion picture was well produced by Manuel Lombardero and originally directed by Julio Medem , this his third movie, "Tierra," released in 1996, was selected for the Cannes Film Festival . Medem had been making short movies with a super-8 camera owned by his father until he received a call from a new production company called Sogetel and executive producers Fernando de Garcillán , José Luis Olaizola , Enrique López Lavigne . They were interested in his script titled "Vacas" . It won the Goya Award from the Spanish academy for best new director, and won prizes in the festivals of Tokyo, Torino and Alexandria. In 1993 Medem made his second movie, "The red squirrel¨. It confirmed Medem's talents and won prizes in Fort Lauderdale, Bogota and Bucarest. In 1998 Medem released " The lovers of the Polar Circle ," considered his best movie by most of his fans . It also became a box-office hit with more than one million spectators in Spain and was also released worldwide. In 2001 his fourth movie, "Lucia and sex ," became a huge hit and began the career of actress Paz Vega who won the Goya for best new actress . Although in 2003 failed with the release , "The Basque ball" , a documentary that portrays the phenomenon of nationalism and terrorism in the Basque Country of northern Spain , it was very polemical and partial . In 2007 directed the flop ¨Caotica Ana¨ and in 2010 , ¨Room in Rome¨, a successful though with not sense film , plenty of nudism and only starred by two gorgeous naked girls . Julio Medem is for sure one of the the most important and original Spanish filmmaker. Well worth watching if you get the chance .

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Metaphysical Earth

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
2 November 2011

Julio Medem's 'Tierra' has that same feel of surrealism, poetry and magic that his other works, namely 'Vacas', 'Los Amantes del Circulo Polar', 'La Ardilla Roja'. His films are a genre of their own. Medem has penned a solid screenplay and done a fine job of showing it on screen. He often works on a broad campus.

The visuals are very simple yet the way Medem and his cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe capture them makes them look extraordinary. The film is set in a remote Spanish countryside surrounded by simple earthy brown landscape. Yet the moving images beautifully capture the richness of texture, mood, emotion, sound, symbolism and dialogue. Alberto Iglesias's score is equally spellbinding. Carmelo Gómez, Emma Suárez, Karra Elejalde, Silke and Nancho Novo are in top form. Gómez does one of his best works here.

I'll refrain from mentioning anything about the story because, like most of Medem's films, this one is more worthy experiencing rather than just hearing.

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