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Year: 1998
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 110 min
Director: Deepa Mehta
Producer: Deepa Mehta, Anne Masson, Delip Mehta
Executive Producer: David Hamilton, Jhamu Sughand
Writer: Deepa Mehta, Bapsi Sidhwa
Cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens
Editor: Barry Farrell
Sound: Jim Hopkins, Graham Ross
Music: A Rahman
Cast: Rahul Khanna, Nandita Das, Aamir Khan, Maia Sethna, Kitu Gidwani
Production Company: Cracking the Earth Films Inc.

Set during the bloody, violent and riotous partition of India in 1947 – which saw the relocation of twelve million Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus to facilitate the formation of Pakistan and resulted in the murder of more than one million people in horrific ethnic clashes – Earth is the second film in Deepa Mehta’s "elemental trilogy" (which also includes Fire and Water) that examines the impact of religion, politics and social mores on the lives of Indian women.

As India teeters on the brink of self-rule, Lenny (Maia Sethna) – an eight-year-old, polio-stricken Parsee girl – witnesses the deep divisions that are soon to ravage her country. Part of a wealthy, non-partisan family in Lahore (an Indian city soon to become the capital of Pakistan), Lenny is looked after by an entourage of friends and relatives who care deeply for her, most notably her loving nanny Shanta (Nandita Das). But these relationships are to be devastated by the massive, impending political rift.

Slowly, reports of violence begin to surface in radio broadcasts and the grip of fear overtakes India’s citizens. Angry words are transformed into marches and fires, executions and massacres. Somehow, amid the carnage and terror, a love affair blossoms between Shanta and Hassan (Rahul Khanna), a peace-advocating Muslim. Also vying for Shanta’s heart is the Ice Candy Man (popular Hindi film star Aamir Khan), who undergoes a chilling metamorphosis as a result of the chaos and will stop at nothing to exact his personal vengeance. Shanta and Hassan cannot protect Lenny from the horrible conflict around her forever. She becomes a pawn in a cruel game that may ultimately rob her of her innocence.

A sorrowful film saturated with rich colours and textures, Earth premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival® and enjoyed many exemplary reviews upon its international release. Bruce Kirkland of the Toronto Sun noted how the film, both a “lyrical love story” and “an epic tragedy… makes a compelling but disheartening case that this kind of internecine violence may be fomented by males, but the battles themselves are fought on – and sometimes over – the bodies of women.”

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