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La Terre
La Terre
Actors: Armand Bour, René Alexandre, Germaine Rouer, Jean Hervé, Émile Mylo
Director: André Antoine
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2003     1hr 38min

Emile Zola?s powerful novel of family greed, brutality and deceit is brilliantly brought to the screen by director André Antoine. Patriarch Pére Fouan divides his land between his two useless and scheming sons. But his gen...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Armand Bour, René Alexandre, Germaine Rouer, Jean Hervé, Émile Mylo
Director: André Antoine
Creators: René Gaveau, René Guichard, Émile Zola
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/09/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2021
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2021
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French

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Movie Reviews

A Gloomy French Drama
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 12/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"La Terre is an interesting French silent film. It is based on a novel by Émile Zola and tells the story of an old farmer who, in failing health, struggles to work his land. He decides, like King Lear, to divide his land between his three children. They are placed under an obligation to provide him with a pension of 800 francs plus food and fuel. However the old man finds that they are later less than willing to keep up their side of the bargain. The story is quite powerful and moving, but while the general thrust of the narrative is clear many of the details are rather confused. This may be because the print of the film is incomplete. There are no really obvious breaks in continuity, but on a number of occasions something happens which is not properly explained. The exact nature of the relationships between the characters are at times quite hard to follow and their motivations are often obscure. This makes watching the film somewhat frustrating and means that the story is not as involving as it ought to be. One of the strengths of the film is the location photography. The scenes of French peasant life of long ago are fascinating. The director, André Antoine, does well in showing realistically the hard life of the farmer when harvesting involved using sickles and scythes. Some of the acting however is less realistic. The old man's villainous children are caricatures beginning bad and becoming worse. The actors playing them are not very subtle in portraying their avarice and cruelty. As a counterpoint to the tale of the old man's descent into poverty, the film has a romance between two young lovers. But this story does not really relieve the gloom of the whole piece. They show themselves to be as selfish as everyone else when they reject the old man's plea for help. The film is supposed to be an indictment of French peasant life, but there is scarcely a pleasant character in the story, hardly any humanity. In the end this makes the story seem rather unrealistic. The print on the Milestone DVD is clear and bright. It is mainly in black and white, but has some scenes tinted blue and yellow. It is a pity that La Terre does not survive complete, but what remains is in good shape with only a few nicks and scratches. The photography is often quite beautiful and the print shows this to good effect. The score by Adrian Johnston is well played by a small orchestra. It is appropriate and fits the mood of the film. The film itself is worth seeing, even if it does not approach greatness. Silent film fans, well travelled in the genre, will appreciate La Terre. Those who are, as yet, less experienced, might be better beginning their journey elsewhere."
It's a Cruel World!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In harmony with the first reviewer's sentiments, I also felt the heavy gloom of this sad story, and I also struggled at first to keep up on who's who and who's doing what, but worked it out eventually! Despite being a sad, even depressing, movie, I can still recommend it for various reasons such as the power of the drama itself which has been portrayed very well (though you do need to pay close attention), and especially the authentic setting of rural France. The images are good and clear, making you feel you've stepped into provincial France of over 100 years ago (although made in 1918-19, the lack of cars, which were not so common in rural areas at that time, make it appear much older) and the old houses and villages are beautiful and fascinating, perhaps especially so to us today in the modern world.
The main point I personally got out of the story is that life could be very cruel a century or so ago, when elderly people were not well-cared for or protected from their greedy, good-for-nothing children. Unlike the other reviewer, however, I found the characters and motives only too realistic, knowing that people can indeed be cruel and completely selfish, often casting out old parents and only being interested in financial gains from them. Things haven't changed, but at least there are laws nowadays to protect and help the elderly, and that's about the only happy thought I took away after watching this movie!
For those who appreciate a good silent film with effective, heart-wrenching drama, this is definitely worth while. Don't expect to be entertained or feel good, though; it deserves some effort and close attention, but you'll be rewarded for it in the end."