Silke & Emma Suárez in Julio Medem’s “Tierra” [1996 Spain]

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After a thrilling “La Ardilla Roja”, Julio Medem made this surreal classic, “Tierra” [Eng. Title: Earth], retaining most of his brilliant main cast. Typically for a Medem film, hitherto missed nuances keep surfacing every time you see it, and by pure coincidence I ended up watching it twice in succession recently – need I say more. Right from the story, to the screenplay, and the characterisation, Medem had woven a stunning multi-layered tapestry using different motifs and themes. The direction is delightfully playful, and the manner in which both the outward story and ‘Medem-vision’ play independently is simply astonishing. The superb cinematography makes you want to be there and get to know these characters. I feel a bit silly stating the obvious – this is a superior classic from maestro Medem, and therefore Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Storyline:
It’s going to be tough, but I’ll give it a try – Our hero, the endearing Ángel is a pest controller – an exterminating angel of sorts commissioned to end a woodworm epidemic in a wine-growing area. Even though he’s aware the woodworm adds a unique ‘earthy’ texture to the wine that is appealing, he nevertheless has to get rid of it. Add to this, we also have wild boars ravaging the crops.

Ángel also wants to exterminate his own split personality, having spent time in a mental institution – for apparently having a rather vivid imagination – “half man, half angel”, according to his own words. This is beautifully illustrated through two women he encounters during his assignment – the married and angelic Ángela, and the free-spirited biker-chick Mari – one part of him loves Ángela while the other wants to rid himself of his split ‘twin’ – and become independent, much like Mari. Which one will ‘he’ choose – and the answer couldn’t have been more poetically established as in one of the final scenes, when the uncle tells a hospitalised Ángel that there’s a pretty woman waiting to see him. He asks his uncle, “which one, the red-haired or the blonde?”, to which the uncle replies, “which one would she rather be?”

 

This is one of those films that has to be experienced in full, but I simply couldn’t resist inserting this little clip from the film, to give you a sampler of Medem’s imaginative film making – this is when Ángel and Mari formally introduce themselves – after she announces herself by calling him “tonto”, idiot..!


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