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September 14, 1999
Starry Reviews Greet Earth
A P Kamath in New York
Deepa Mehta's Earth, which has received a wider publicity and release in North America than her previous film, Fire, has received mostly positive reviews. The film, now being shown in New York, New Jersey and California will add on several screens next week.
In New York, The New York Times, New York Post and Daily News gave the movie positive reviews; The Postgave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four while the News handed three. The Timesdoes not give starred reviews.
The Newsday reviewer who found the film "too slick" for its own good gave it two-and-a-half stars.
'Earth is a remarkable accomplishment,' wrote Jonathan Foreman in the Post.
'It takes one of the century's vast tragedies -- the mass slaughter in the Punjab after the hasty departure of the British from India in August 1947 -- and makes it heart-rendingly real and intimate.'
There were a few things Foreman did not like: 'And although Earthstrains to be fair to all parties, it is not what you would call a subtle film. There are more than a few moments (whenever the characters talk politics) when the dialogue is almost laughably crude and unrealistic -- even if what we are seeing are the memories of a girl.
'There is also a sex scene that is gratuitous even by Western standards. But in the end these flaws don't matter; Earth isn't about politics -- it's a powerful, moving tale of about real people caught in a historical nightmare."
Mehta is a film-maker 'without fear of large subjects,' wrote Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times.
'Mehta, whose Fire in 1997 successfully focused on the personal story of two married women who develop a sexual attraction for each other, works with cinematographer Giles Nuttgens and production designer Aradhana Seth to re-create vivid snapshots of a country in turmoil,' he wrote.
But Turan complained that the several stories in the movie are not as satisfactorily realized as the historical re-creations. He also found the film too melodramatic.
The New York Times noted the movie 'is a powerful and disturbing reminder of how a civilization can suddenly crack under certain pressures. We have only to look at the Balkans and Northern Ireland to find the same cycle of violence being re-enacted.'
Calling Earth, a sorrowful film, the reviewer said it is 'bathed in a deep golden light that at moments recalls the orange sky silhouetting the sweaty faces of Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind during the burning of Atlanta. This amber glow gives the film... a ruddy twilit sensuality, along with a sense of nocturnal foreboding.'
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