Another Earth (Blu-ray)

Genre films, to me, fit into two extremely general categories. The first is the 90% that are, at their core, tied entirely to the essential elements that make them _________ (science fiction, horror, etc) films. For example, lets take the movie ALIEN. At its core ALIEN is science fiction even though it has elements of suspense and horror. The underlying principles of the world (including the plot) are all tied to the science fiction elements. The second category, though, is a sub-set of genre films that are more about the situation or plot than the world. The science fiction elements exist more behind the scenes as a backdrop to the story than as essential plot points. Examples of movies that I would categorize in this way include 2009’s standout MOON (featuring Sam Rockwell) or the original SOLARIS (1972).

Brit Marling

ANOTHER EARTH is another film that fits into this second category. A new planet has been discovered in our solar system… a planet that appears to be a replica of the Earth. A high school student named Rhoda (Brit Marling) is celebrating with other kids (she has just learned that she was accepted to MIT), she has some drinks and gets in her car to drive home. On the radio she hears about the newly discovered planet and starts staring out the window trying to locate it. Rhoda isn’t paying attention when she approaches an intersection, and she slams into a stopped car, putting John Burroughs (the phenomenal William Mapother of LOST) into a coma and killing his pregnant wife and son.

Cut to four years later. Rhoda is released from prison and has to find a job. Still wanting to punish herself for her crimes she wants only to work in maintenance for a local high school. After some time she to apologize to Mr. Burroughs and finds him on the internet. She discovers that he has spiraled downward since the accident, no longer teaching/conducting for Yale University. When she loses her nerve after he answers the door, she pretends she is there representing a maid service and offers to clean his house. Over the next few weeks she continues to clean his house (not cashing his checks) and notices a difference in him. John starts to engage Rhoda and they become friends, even flirting with each other. Rhoda struggles with her feelings for this man who’s life she destroyed, even though she now feels like she’s giving him something back.

Brit Marling, William Mapother

Obviously this movie is dealing with some deep issues. Running parallel to the main story is the backdrop of this strange planet that has appeared out of nowhere and turned everything on its head. Adding to the mystery is the fact that when first contact occurs we learn that the other Earth is truly a mirror image… including the people. This means that within this world the possibility of meeting yourself and interacting with yourself is very real… and brings about debates on the meaning of self – what if I was to meet my other self on this new planet? Would I still exist? Great philosophical debates with which humanity has struggled for centuries are invigorated with new meaning.

The situation with Rhoda and John is a microcosm of the greater questions being posed. With the possibilities of this new earth, what could change in the world? Would there be a new start for any of us? We care about these questions primarily because we care about the characters. Brit Marling, while a newcomer to me, has some chops, including co-directing a documentary with director Mike Cahill in 2004 called BOXERS AND BALLERINAS. Marling also co-wrote the script with Cahill. It’s clear that this collaborative partnership has some great things to bring to the table, and I can’t wait to see what is next – Starling is a natural on screen and she commands attention.

Brit Marling

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres of film, so I was excited when I received Blu-ray ANOTHER EARTH to review. But as I read the info on the back of the movie I realized that this wasn’t a typical sci-fi movie. I actually became more excited. Instead of focusing on the science aspect of the world, this is a true drama that happens to occur in a world very similar to our own. The concept actually works really well, despite the fact that the film is a little bit too ‘artsy’ for my tastes a few times. This is an interesting an intimate view of humanity. While it isn’t the kind of movie I’m going to watch 30 times, it is definitely deserving of some recognition for being an interesting and unique achievement, and an enjoyable film to watch.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) The video is grainy, which is simply a result of the way that this film was shot (on a camcorder). Regardless, the graininess works for the subject matter.

Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound is nicely done but without much flash. The dialogue is played and mixed well with the newsreel stories and sounds that are intercut.

The First Time I Saw Jupiter” by Fall On Your Sword Music Video (03:19) This is the video for the song that opens the movie and includes footage from the film.

Brit Marling in Another Earth

 Deleted Scenes (09:20) A set of scenes deleted from the movie. A few of these include more scenes between Rhoda and her parents, which is actually a nice addition. A couple of the scenes include title cards explaining why they were cut.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: Direct Effect with Mike Cahill (04:17) The director talks briefly about the process of writing and shooting the film. He credits Mapother and Marling for the films success. Hearing these folks talk about their experience makes me love the movie more.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Brit Marling (04:22) Marling talks about both her role and writing for herself and working on a role that was very challenging.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with William Mapother (04:22) Mapother was arguably the one star involved in the movie and he talks about why he made this movie and his process for working on the character.

The Science Behind Another Earth (02:39) Marling, Cahill, and Astrophysicist Richard Berendzen sit down to talk about alternate or multiple universes. I enjoyed it but would have liked it to have been at LEAST five minutes long… just as it gets interesting it is over.

Creating Another Earth (02:29) How do you create an alternate science fiction world with no money? Cahill and Marling discuss this process.

Also included is the Theatrical Trailer (02:11).

OVERALL 3.5
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