Anne Nesbet is an associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures and film and media at UC Berkeley.
Semen Svashenko, Stepan Shkurat, Julia Solntseva,
Earth is the masterpiece of the great Ukrainian director Dovzhenko; it is also his most experimental film. There seems to be a mad logic to its imagery, yet each startling image is precisely linked to the others, much as the peasants are linked through their shared passions, miseries, and mysteries. This is how Dovzhenko tells a story—of Ukrainian villagers coming to terms with collective farming against the brutal resistance of the kulaks and the more subtle resistance of tradition. The familiar catalog of earthly symbols here reaches an apotheosis, a daring poetry in the treatment of people and animals alike.