Eight year old Lenny's (Maia Sethna) Parsee family in Lahore lives a happy middle class life in 1947 and Lenny loves her beautiful Hindu nanny, Shenta (Nandita Das). Shenta's suitors come from Muslim as well as Hindu-Sikh families and they all congregate in the park to talk and banter. When the effect of the Partition reaches Lenny's world, the words turn into horrendous acts of violence. Friends become instant enemies, and even love is destroyed.
Review by Louise Keller:
Visually haunting with a richness of life's colourful textures, Deepa Mehta's Earth is an extraordinary and moving experience. Admittedly, Earth has personal significance for me - I was born in India after the Independence, and much of the feelings and aspects of lifestyle portrayed tap at doors that have long been locked with the key thrown away. My family was forced to leave the country, as were many others. But you don't need to have had an upbringing in India to be overwhelmed by this film.
If you saw Fire, you will know that Mehta is a remarkable filmmaker, marrying glorious visuals with complex emotions. Here, once again, the ornate colours of India are woven into an exquisite multi-layered portrait, with conflicts and contrasts. The clash of class and sect is at its peak as India prepares to take its independence from Britain. There's an interesting juxtaposition of the neutrality of the Parsees with that of the Swiss in their own country, while Hindus-Sikhs and Muslims are basically at war.
Seen through the watchful and innocent eyes of an eight year old girl whose parents have become Anglo-sized, we enter a world where the horrific reality of events explodes in a setting of serenity and beauty. Much of the film is internal, and watching the characters experience and feel is greatly affecting. The kite flying sequence, symbolic of joy, freedom and unbridled happiness, leaves us with a sensation of great beauty and tranquility, while the love scene reflects sensuality and purity in its highest form.
From life's brilliance to the shadows of slaughter, the film's heart explores the animal and evil within us; the ugliness that is unleashed with anger, betrayal and hatred. The callous heart of revenge and jealousy is a disease that infects us all. The performances are all superb - Nandita Das as bewitching as she was in Fire, Aamir Khan a real scene stealer, while an evocative sound track with all the symbolic rhythms and tones of heightened emotion resounds throughout.
Powerful, joyous, tragic - all visualised with breathtaking beauty, Earth is an important expression of our very nature, irrespective of race.
Published: July 15, 2004
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EARTH: DVD (MA)
CAST: Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna, Kitu Gidwani, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Gulshan Grover, Arif Zakaria, Pavan Malhotra
DIRECTOR: Deepa Metha
SCRIPT: Deepa Metha (From the book Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa)
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: May 19, 2004