Another Earth

 

Another Earth

Written Mike Cahill & Brit Marling

Cinematography & Editing by Mike Cahill

Music by “Fall on Your Sword”, Scott Munson and Natalia Paruz

Produced by Hunter Gray

Directed by Mike Cahill

2011


Cast:

Brit Marling

William Mapother

Kumar Pallana


Production Studio:

Theatrical: An Artists Public Domain Production

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD50

Feature Size: ca. 24 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate-High (avg. 30 Mbps)

Runtime: 92 minutes

Chapters: 19

Region:


Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1


Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish & French


Extras:

  1. The Science Behind Another Earth - in HD (2:35)

  2. Creating Another Earth - in HD (2:25)

  3. 7 Deleted Scenes - in HD (9:20)

  4. Fox Movie Channel Presents Interviews with Brit Marling and William Mapother- in SD (4:14 & 4:16)

  5. Music Video: The First Time I Saw Jupiter by Fall on Your Sword (3:15)

  6. Movie Trailers in HD

  7. DVD of the feature film

  8. Digital Copy Disc


Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case:

BRD + DVD + DCC

Street Date: November 29, 2011


 

Synopsis:

Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) is a high school graduate, recently accepted to MIT.  After a late night party she drives home, listening to a radio broadcast about the discovery of another Earth.  As she looks looks out her car window to the heavens she slams her car into another, putting John Burroughs (William Mapother) into a coma and killing his wife and son. After serving a four-year prison sentence, Rhoda becomes a janitor at a local school. 


Meanwhile, Burroughs, who came out of his coma three years earlier, has been living in a state of suspended hibernation at his home ever since.  Rhoda eventually gets up the courage to approach him with the intent of making some sort of apology, but loses her nerve and instead passes herself off as a maid for hire, starting with a free trial. Burroughs does not recognize her, which adds a sense of poignancy to a scene that could have been played for comedy.  His home certainly needs cleaning, as do both of their lives, inside and out.  Might Rhoda find in her work some sort of expiation?  What of Burroughs whose life has been on pause ever since the tragedy?  And what of “Earth 2” and the possibility of encountering mirrors of ourselves?


 


The Movie: 6

Every once in awhile I come across a movie that I just don’t get.  Unconfident that I am by nature I am inclined to think the fault lies with me, and perhaps this is often true. Another Earth is such a case.  It strikes me that there is enough for a complete and layered story in the relationship that grows between Rhoda and John. 


It seems to me - though perhaps I am misguided in this (Wikipedia thinks I am) - that the insinuation of a duplicate Earth, complete with a duplicate population, is meant to offer a metaphor for the possibility of redemption, rebirth, of going on beyond that which is unforgivable.  Wikipedia says: The idea behind Another Earth first developed out of director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling speculating as to what it would be like were one to encounter one's own self. In order to explore the possibility on a large scale, they devised the concept of a duplicate Earth. Be that as it may, it strikes me that the addition of a science fantasy component removes us from the very possibility that addressing what is possible and what is not about ourselves, and examining the unforgivable can and ought to be done between the parties and not between surrogates.


 


Throughout the movie I found myself distracted by this other Earth - as are the citizenry of our own planet.  And who wouldn’t be!  People can’t take their eyes off the sky or the TV set or the radio.  When they look up at the sky they “see” the other Earth in subjective images that even include a moon like ours.  The distance is impossibly close, but the image is a tantalizing one, reminding me of the work of Makoto Shinkai (5 centimeters per second) - another distraction.  Cahill and Marling are careful not to be specific about the location of this mirror Earth, but satisfy us with the idea that it can be reached by spaceship with present day technology. . .


. . . which brings me to the question of the contest, where some “lucky” soul will get a free ticket to the other Earth - along with a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I thought.  Cahill and Marling focus on Rhoda’s winning 500-words-or-less-tell-us-why-you-deserve-to-go essay, which should be the fulcrum upon which the balance of the film tilts.  And this is where I felt they let us down most.  Here there are no sci-fi distractions, just a pouring out of the heart, a confession of merit.  I felt her essay just pooped, nor does it have much connection to the film’s ending.  Perhaps your mileage may differ.


 


Aside from these disturbances in the Force, there can be no question about the performances of the two principals, William Mapother (Ethan Rom from Lost) and co-creator and relative film acting newcomer, Brit Marling.  Theirs are heartfelt, passionate characterizations that strike me as at odds with the science fantasy elements.  Perhaps Cahill and Marling could not have imagined what flesh and blood they were able to create and what effect it would have on the film as a whole.


All that said, I think the film is worth watching for the acting and the knockout denouement and final frames (even if we don’t buy the idea on scientific or narrative grounds).  I would add to this the evocative music supplied by Will Bates and Phil Mossman, perhaps better known as “Fall on Your Sword,” and the musical saw piece composed by Scott Munson and performed by Natalia Paruz.


 


Image: 6/8

The IMDB says the Another Earth is shot with the Sony EX3 camcorder in 720p!  That said, the resulting image is better than you might expect, as is Fox’s transfer.  There are occasional blue halos against strong backlight, but aside from some noise (in one instance, far too much I thought, regardless of artistic intent) and occasional aliasing, the image quality is good enough and not too disturbing.  Keep in mind that the entire movie was made for a mere $150,000.  The movie doesn’t look nearly as handmade as you might expect.


 


Audio: 7/9

The audio fares better but it’s kind of flat and uninteresting and never approaches a high definition standard despite its being encoded DTS-HD MA 5.1. Dialogue is always clear.  The excellent music by “Fall on your Sword” is largely piano and cello and works very well as leitmotifs for the two characters.  The scene with the musical saw is worth the price of admission.


 


Extras: 5

Fox’s Blu-ray edition includes a DVD and Digital copy of the movie.  The Blu-ray disc add: The Science Behind Another Earth, a simple-minded discussion with Cahill, Marling and astrophysicist Dr Richard Berendzen about alternate universes. In “Creating Another Earth” Cahill and Marling talk about making a movie on the cheap ($150,000). The seven Deleted Scenes are presented in HD, where as the two four-minute Fox Movie Channel Presents  interviews with Brit Marling and William Mapother are not.  The Music Video The First Time I Saw Jupiter by Fall on Your Sword sports a high-def image but you’d never know it from the looks of it. Fox rounds out the selection of lightweight bonus bits with a few Movie Trailers in HD, including one for the feature film.


 


Recommendation: 7

Even though I think the drama between Rhoda and John on the one hand and the idea of an Earth II works at cross purposes, I feel the movie is worth a look.  Rent first.



Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

December 2, 2011



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