Watch Earth, a Landmark of Soviet Cinema (1930)

Today we’re adding to our list of Free Movies a 1930 Sovi­et silent film by direc­tor Alexan­der Dovzhenko. It’s called Earth, and it’s the third install­ment in Dovzhenko’s “Ukraine Tril­o­gy.”

When The Guardian cre­at­ed its list of the Top 10 Silent Movies of all time, it put Earth in the #9 slot. About the film writer Pamela Hutchin­son said:

Earth, capped by that avowed­ly sec­u­lar title, is a lyri­cal, car­nal movie about birth, death, sex and rebel­lion. Offi­cial­ly, this Sovi­et-era Ukrain­ian silent is a paean to col­lec­tive farm­ing, craft­ed around a fam­i­ly dra­ma, but its direc­tor, Alexan­der Dovzhenko, was a born rene­gade, for whom plots were far less impor­tant than poet­ry…

Earth is the final part of Dovzhenko’s silent tril­o­gy (fol­low­ing the nation­al­ist fan­ta­sy Zvenig­o­ra (1928) and the avant-garde anti-war film Arse­nal (1929), and is brim­ming with exu­ber­ant youth, but haunt­ed by the shad­ow of death.…

Sketched as trib­ute to the boons of col­lec­tivi­sa­tion, but released as those schemes were falling out of favour, Earth was con­demned on its home turf on polit­i­cal grounds. It was also snipped by cen­sors who object­ed to the nudi­ty, and the infa­mous scene in which farm­ers uri­nate into their trac­tor’s radi­a­tor. But while there was dis­may and cen­sure in the Sovi­et Union, crit­ics else­where were over­awed…

It’s the lat­ter impres­sion that endures. Dovzhenko’s sym­bol­ism is both rich and auda­cious. His scope com­pris­es vast pas­toral land­scapes, and inti­mate fleshy naked­ness. Per­haps its most cel­e­brat­ed sequence is the mag­nif­i­cent open­ing scene: the painful coun­ter­point between a dying man, his infant grand­chil­dren and the burst­ing fruit of his orchard. This is liv­ing cin­e­ma, as refresh­ing and vital as the film’s own cli­mac­tic down­pour.

You can watch Earth above, and find it list­ed in our col­lec­tion of Free Silent Films, a sub­set of our meta col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More. Below you can watch a ver­sion of Earth with a recent sound­track pro­vid­ed by the amaz­ing Ukrain­ian ensem­ble, DakhaBrakha. Enjoy.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Inter­plan­e­tary Rev­o­lu­tion (1924): The Most Bizarre Sovi­et Ani­mat­ed Pro­pa­gan­da Film You’ll Ever See

Watch Dzi­ga Vertov’s A Man with a Movie Cam­era, Named the 8th Best Film Ever Made

Watch Sovi­et Avant-Garde Com­posers Cre­ate Syn­the­sized Music with Hand-Drawn Ani­ma­tions (1934)

Eight Free Films by Dzi­ga Ver­tov, Cre­ator of Sovi­et Avant-Garde Doc­u­men­taries

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.