It's 1947 and the borderlines between India and Pakistan are being drawn. A young girl bears witnesses to tragedy as her ayah is caught between the love of two men and the rising tide of political and religious violence.
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The movie opens in Lahore of 1947 before India and Pakistan became independent. It is a cosmopolitan city, depicted by the coterie of working class friends who are from different religions. The rest of the movie chronicles the fate of this group and the maddening religious that sweeps even this city as the partition of the two countries is decided and Lahore is given to Pakistan. Written by
Neel V Kumar <email@example.com>
A Seeringly Poignant Examination of Religious Factions of India
Deepa Mehta has such a commanding presence in her films that she is able to leave her audience both educated and devastated by her stories and by the ingenious ways in which she tells them. EARTH is a magnificent example of her gifts and while it may not be as visually luxurious or as touching as her subsequent WATER, it is a fine film that not only depicts a troubled time in India's history, but also informs us of the intricacies of how people relate to each other - first as humans, second as religious sects.
The film has at its heart the year 1947 when India was given its independence from Great Britain and at the same time bifurcated into two countries - India and Pakistan. The story opens with a tranquil park picnic in Lahore where friends - Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Parsee - while away the afternoon in camaraderie. Only slight overtones of edgy topics about religion mar the conversation until the topic focuses on the incipient split of the country into two countries. Each of the friends represents each of the religious sects and it is how these differences, at once unimportant to friendship, end up in separating the friends under the influence of the devastation of bloodshed that follows the division of the country and the displacement of millions of people, all under the guise of independence.
There is a strong love story, a committed crippled child who experiences all of the happiness and subsequent tragedy that is to follow and the story ends with some words of wisdom by the grown little girl reflecting on choices made, and other sidebars that maintain interest at every frame.
The acting is first rate from a beautiful cast and Mehta's direction makes this tale of change whir by the viewer. For those not educated in the differences of the four religious sects of Hindu, Parsee, Muslim, and Sikh the tale can become confusing: would that Mehta would have included a discussion about the film in an added feature the way she helped us understand the plight of widows in WATER. And the subtitles unfortunately do not translate the English spoken portions of the film, portions that while very important to the story are nearly indecipherable due to the accents of the characters speaking.
But these are minor quibbles in a film that pleads for repeated viewings, so beautiful is the movie and so very important is the message. Highly Recommended.
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