The Land

1970 [ARABIC]


IMDb Rating 8.1 10 2100

Plot summary

December 17, 2022 at 03:00 AM


Youssef Chahine

Top cast

1.16 GB
Arabic 2.0
24 fps
2 hr 9 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by thenolanfan 9 / 10

Best Film on "The Earth"

As IMDb states, "The Land" tells the story of A small peasant village's struggles against the careless inroads of the large local landowner. Not only are the performances authentic, and shockingly realistic, but the filmmaker, Youssef Chahine was able to take a very simplistic story on his root, and turn it into an immensely complex and nuanced social drama.

This is possibly the best film ever made in Africa, if you choose to give that film 2h10 of your time, you will never regret it.

Reviewed by theskulI42 8 / 10

Exciting and underseen Egyptian hit.

The Land is, for all intents and purposes, a righteous polemic, reminiscent of poor salt-of-the-earth Communist screeds like Vidor's Our Daily Bread or Dovzhenko's Earth. But where those films were at times painfully idealistic, The Land, while still overly simplified, takes it one step further. The film is too smart to think that everything is going to be okay simply because everyone has goodness in their hearts (so they'll band together and save the day). But instead, it substitutes an "us against them" philosophy. The rich cityfolk are BAAAAD. All the poor farmers might not be good, but as we're informed in an opening discussion, the bad ones are the ones that abandoned their crops, absconding to the EEEVIL city to get rich, and are now layabouts because nothing will grow. The inference is all there in black and white, and it's actually a bit jarring considering I started my Chahine marathon with Memory: An Egyptian Story, a fantasy drama about a movie director who, during heart surgery, is put on trial by his conscience for compromising his integrity as a film director. Going by The Land, perhaps he feels he is one of the layabouts who abandoned his soil.

The film also brings to mind those prior films because they revolve around the same thing: cultivation and respect for the land. All three have several similar sequences, and The Land even contains an successful irrigation sequence more joyously revelatory than Our Daily Bread's (of course, right after this, the protagonists are thrown in jail and the eeeevil taxman cuts off the water). Chahine's direction for the most part is plaintive, mirroring the salt-of-the-earth vibe of the characters and the story, but there is one small sequence midway through that even the sketchy color work couldn't spoil: while the villagers are awaiting the release of their leader from prison, and a cloud of dust sweeps up, drenched in the sun, and the composition with the house and the old woman in black off to the side was so beautiful I wanted to frame it on my wall, or at least put on an album cover.

The film is rousing and entertaining but fairly ordinary and predictable, at least until the ending, which finishes a bit jarringly: it not only neglects to conclude at a clear finish line, but is brutally downbeat, a definite surprise bonus considering most films with white hat-black hat line divisions end with an unrealistic deus ex machina to leave you smiling as you file out of your seats. The Land resolves to twist up that expectation, and it's most definitely for the better, as the unexpected move works to excellent effect.

I have heard The Land referred to as Chahine's unseen masterpiece, and although I'm not quite able to affirm this opinion, I do admit that it is a very good film, and despite its one-dimensional characterization theology-wise, it develops them to the point of believability, and does enough to subvert expectations that it's most definitely a worthwhile watch, and I think it's a bit of a crime that it's so unavailable to people who would love to watch it.

{Grade: 8.25/10 (B /B) / #9 (of 18) of 1969}

Reviewed by nadineacoury 8 / 10

simply superb

Just saw it tonight at the Cinémathèque de Paris, for the second time after more than 30 years, and found it utterly magnificient politically wise and cinema wise from the first image to the very last

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