Another Earth was released in December 2011, but not shown in most cinemas. The fact that the film was not widely released in cinemas is not a negative thing; In fact Another Earth is best viewed in the privacy of your own home, without the distraction of popcorn throwing, hot dog eating movie goers!
The film is written by an actress newly recognised for her talent in both acting and writing, Brit Marling. She plays a challenged but likable character named Rhoda, Brit co-wrote the film along with Mike Cahill. This newly discovered actress’ performance is powerful and has managed to create an incredibly challenging and interesting path in ultimately creating a ‘doomsday’ type film. Here is the basic story-line : One night the world is witness to a bright star in the sky, that eventually becomes identified as a mirror earth. On this night of discovery Rhoda stares at its wonder whilst driving & crashes into John Burrough (played by William Mapother) and his family’s car. Sadly his family is killed, leaving him dishevelled and grief-stricken to suffer life alone. This is until Rhoda, released from prison, finds John. From there a complicated and at times uncomfortable relationship begins. Meanwhile the world is dealing with the prospect of a mirror earth. In a moment of despair Rhoda enters a competition to go to the twin earth, she wins, and offers her place to John, which he accepts. Although the technical and narrative aspects of this film may well need to be reviewed, I feel that the actual impact the film has on the viewer is more important.
Many ‘doomsday’ type films such as Day After Tomorrow (2004), show a dramatised and sometimes over the top impression of how human kind might deal with incomprehensible or scary aspects of the universe. Similar to the film Melancholia (2011), Another Earth draws the viewer into a realistic and private perspective of how the human mind functions in life; from grief, to love, hatred and fear. We all ask the big questions, ‘why are we here?’ etc. and this film leaves you vulnerable and somewhat annoyed that we still cannot answer these questions and maybe we never will. This is not necessarily a negative thing, for it is by questioning that we can sometimes gain clarity and some comfort. Even if we may never know the extent of the content of the universe and whether another earth does exist, we can in some way begin to understand our position in the universe, no matter how small it might be.
The idea of another earth, makes the viewer question their identity, for if there is another earth with another me, how important can I really be. The earth doesn’t revolve around me, it revolves around two of me! The scientist Ptolemy was one of the first to state that the earth wasn’t the centre of the universe but just another planet, amongst a mass of complex matter made up of chemicals. This too left the world to question their identity and faith.
I wonder whether, once you’ve watched this film, you will question your identity and begin to ask the unanswerable questions. I really hope you do, because beyond all the set dressing and complex characters in this film lies an insight into what we do not know.