Tierra (1996)
Vanguard Films
Cast: Carmelo Gomez, Silke, Emma Suarez
Extras: Trailer

So, you say that you’re looking for a movie that’s a little different? I’ve got your different right here. ’Tierra’ (which translates as ’earth’) is another unique foreign film being offered to us by Vanguard. This Spanish production follows in the tradition of many avant-garde films by presenting a fairly simple story that is played out in a very bizarre way.

’Tierra’ is set in what is presumably Spain, in the future, but we are never told for sure. Angel is an exterminator who has come to the wine country to fumigate the woodlouse, which has been giving the local wine an earthy flavor. He arrives at the home of Angela and her father and begins to work. (The ’vineyards’ are mostly fields of dirt, not filled with the lush vines that we are accustomed to.) During his stay, Angel meets Mari, a wild and sexy young woman, who taunts Angel, while living with her boyfriend Patricio. Angel finds that he is attracted to both Angela and Mari, and becomes very involved in the local affairs, while still trying to rid the area of the woodlouse.

Writer/Director Julio Medem takes this fairly simple premise and throws in many odd features such as electrocuted sheep and impromptu hunts for wild boar. The film is chock full of symbolism and is beautifully shot. Medem juxtaposes time and place and the film takes its time in telling its odd story. The film’s style reminded me of David Lynch meets Stanley Kubrick, with its bizarre characters and radical storytelling style mixed with its futuristic and bleak landscapes. Oh, did I mention that Angel may really be an angel? If you’re the kind of person who thought that ’Lost Highway’ made perfect sense, then you’ll love ’Tierra.’

The Vanguard DVD of ’Tierra’ offers the film in its letterboxed format at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This is a non-anamorphic transfer. (This film was advertised as being full-frame, but it’s not.) The picture is clear, and never muddy, but there is a substantial amount of grain throughout most of the film. Also, at times, the colors appear to be washed out, but given the alien landscape of the film, this may have been intentional on the filmmakers part. Overall, the transfer is adequate, but it would have been nice to see a less grainy print. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 2-channel Surround mix with offers a nice balance between dialogue and sound effects. The english subtitles are printed in white and they appear on the picture, making them difficult to read at times. The DVD also features the theatrical trailer for the film, which letterboxed at 2.35:1. This is yet another nice foreign film package from Vanguard.