Film Preview – Another Earth

Recently, a film premiered in the United States with a rather obscure title: Another Earth. Intrigued by this name, I decided to look into this film and find out what it was all about.

Mike Cahill and Brit Marling wrote the film. Brit also played the main character, Rhoda Williams. The film only had a budget of $200,000 and that combined with the weird title made me walk into the cinema rather skeptical.

Rhoda Williams, a very high-flying high school student interested in astronomy, drives home intoxicated and causes a car accident killing the wife and child of John Burroughs, a famous composer and university professor. Just before the accident she hears on the news that another planet is approaching earth.

After four years in prison she is released as she was under age when the accident happened. She is full of remorse and guilt for what she has done and finally comes to John Burrough’s house to apologise after working in a high school as a cleaner for a couple of months. He never found out who killed his family as he let his brother deal with all the judiciary details after coming out of a coma after the accident.

The other planet is now high up on the sky and mirrors the earth in every detail. However, when Rhoda arrives at John’s house, instead of apologising, she looses her nerves and pretends to be a cleaner visiting from another village offering a free trial cleaning session. Over the next few weeks she becomes John Burrow’s cleaner and helps him turn his life around again, as he had fallen into an emotional and physical abyss after the incident four years ago. In the meantime Rhoda, with her passion for astronomy, participates in an assay competition to fly to the other earth in a civilian spacecraft. It is now clear that the other planet is indeed a complete mirror image of ours and it becomes clear that every person has another self on this other planet.

Finally Rhoda tells John who she really is. I do not want to spoil it for you, so you better go and watch the ending yourself …

This film very positively surprised me. The acting is good and the story as well as the characters really evoked emotions in me. The story is captivating and the film opens a bunch of philosophical questions:

“Who are we really?”

“What would I look like if I saw myself from the outside?”

“Would I like me the way I am if I see myself as another person sees me?”

“What would you do in life if you had a second chance?”

Another interesting notion with me was the following: Kopernikus discovered that the earth evolves around the sun and thus we do not think we are the centre of the universe anymore. But do we really? In the film they call the other planet Earth 2 and  in the film the question is asked: Do you really think on this other planet the call themselves Earth 2 and us Earth 1? No, they will call themselves Earth 1 and us Earth 2. Have we really lost our belief that we indeed ARE the centre of the universe?

The film puts all these questions in a beautiful science fantasy narrative. It is a great example of how a film does not have to have huge budgets to be portray a message and captivate the audience.

I can only recommend going and seeing it.

Image reproduced from http://louisvilleky.com and http://filmhash.files.wordpress.com

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About Sebastian Müller

Sebastian Müller was born and raised in Leipzig/Germany and moved to England as an adolescent. He is a trained research chemist and geneticist and is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut Curie in Paris/ France working in cancer research. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is still actively involved at the university today. He is fluent in English, German and French and has many fortés and interests including science, philosophy, linguistics, history, competitive sports such as rowing, fitness and nutrition. He is a freelance writer also drawing from his experience as an author in peer-reviewed scientific journals. “I love writing and putting my thoughts down on paper. The written word to me is one of the most powerful ways of conveying thoughts and initiating discussions.”

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