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Zemlia | Oleksander Dovzhenko, 1930
USSR | 75 minutes
Live piano accompaniment by Makia Matsumura!
Dovzhenko's undisputed masterpiece (and a prerequisite to viewing anything by Tarkovsky or Kiarostami), Earth is a rumination on nature's cycles of death and rebirth. That this primeval meta-myth, like most of the director's work, grew out of a banal Agitprop assignment–to make a film that would support the then-intensifying efforts at collectivizing Soviet agriculture–only makes it more of a wonder. The serenity reaches truly mystic levels when the culprit in a murder, ostensibly crucial for the narrative, confesses the deed yet hardly anyone seems to care or bother to notice. Not to worry: the earth will do its own healing, and mete out its own punishment.