It's the Earth Not the Moon

Film
3 out of 5 stars
The island community of Corvo, the setting of It's The Earth, Not the Moon
The island community of Corvo, the setting of It's The Earth, Not the Moon

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The tiny island of Corvo is the smallest of the nine landmasses that make up Portugal’s Archipelago of the Azores, seven miles across and home to a population of close to 500 people. Gonçalo Tocha’s psychogeographical travelogue seems determined to capture every square inch and as many of the local residents on camera as humanly possible: “We going to film everything we can,” the young Portuguese documentarian declares, and brother, he’s not kidding. Over the next three-plus hours, we see long shots of Corvo’s rocky cliffs, rain-swept streets and rustic houses. We also meet the village’s cheese makers and karaoke singers, fishermen and slaughterhouse workers, tourist-board toadies and visiting British bird-watchers, ex-whalers and current Communist Party members, its flashy-car-driving young and cap-knitting elderly; that a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker do not make cameos is a minor miracle.

A sense of preservation is inherent in Tocha’s obsessive-compulsive filmmaking, as well as vague notions of social criticism (union woes are mentioned; a bitter socialist declares that Europe is kaput). What exactly is being commemorated, however, is lost in the thicket of catchall footage; though modernity is glimpsed via a proposed arts center, it’s not like the project will supplant the long-dead traditions or annihilate the area’s agrarian ways. As a tone poem, Tocha’s doc can be mesmerizing. As a memento mori, It’s the Earth feels a little lost in space.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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