Down to Earth

Escaping his native Portugal to film in the Cape Verde islands, Costa discovered a Herzogian landscape that suited this sleepwalker's tale of isolation and alienation; he also connected with a community that would prove integral to his future filmmaking. Loosely drawing from such disparate sources as Rossellini's Stromboli and Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie, Down to Earth follows a prim Portuguese nurse who accompanies a comatose Cape Verdean immigrant (Isaach de Bankole) back to his isolated island village of barren lava, sun-baked days, and dark, nightmarish nights. With the inhabitants lost in their own private rituals and dreams, the nurse attempts to fit in, but soon finds herself just as adrift, and possibly in danger. The island's bizarre landscape is the film's true star, though, its jagged, violent beauty well accompanied by the music of Raul Andrade, a famed Cape Verdean musician who also appears onscreen.

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