Earth (1930)

Commissioned to make propaganda for Stalin’s farm collectivisations, the Soviet cinema’s great visual poet Alexander Dovzhenko instead delivered an impassioned hymn to nature.

Earth is celebrated as one of cinema’s supreme visual masterpieces. The immensity of the sky bears down on the Ukrainian steppe as the arrival of a tractor signals a fundamental change to a centuries-old way of life, but the plot is secondary to the extraordinarily potent images of wheatfields, ripe fruit and weatherbeaten faces.

The film was originally commissioned to champion a policy that would ultimately lead to the famine-induced deaths of millions of Ukrainians. Director Alexander Dovzhenko could not have foreseen this, however, and his priorities were poetic rather than political. After Earth was denounced as Ukrainian nationalist propaganda, Dovzhenko lost his job at the Kiev Film Institute. He continued to make films until his death in 1956, but none scaled the same creative heights.

1930 USSR, Ukrainian SSR
Directed by
Alexander Dovzhenko
Written by
Alexander Dovzhenko
Featuring
Mykola Nademsky, Stepan Shkurat, Semyon Svashenko
Running time
90 minutes

Ranked in The Greatest Films of All Time poll

Sight and Sound

Who voted for Earth

Critics

Nigel Andrews
UK
Manuel Asín
Spain
Robin Baker
UK
Michael Baute
Germany
Vasco Câmara
Portugal
Robert Daudelin
Canada
Pamela Hutchinson
UK
Yevgeny Margolit
Russia
Simon Petri-Lukács
Hungary
Michael Sicinski
USA
Noel Vera
Philippines
Charles Whitehouse
UK

Directors

Roberto Minervini
US/Italy

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