Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's Gone To Earth is a lesser celebrated film from the iconic filmmaker's canon which tells the story of Hazel Woodus, a beautiful, innocent, and naive country girl who feels more kinship with nature and the woodland creatures than human beings. Living a simple, impoverished life with her father, Hazel soon finds herself entering into a romance with the local squire, Jack Reddin, who couldn't be more different but is none-the-less struck by Hazel's beauty. Obviously there is a bit of a conflict between Jack and Hazel, given Jack's penchant for hunting down local animals that inhabit the area, and their loveless marriage soon leads Hazel to begin an affair with Edward Marston, a much more sensitive man with nowhere near the same financial means. Characterized by many as merely Victorian Melodrama, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's Gone To Earth has much more to offer, being a brooding, atmospheric film about nature itself, examining the destructive qualities of humanity and the savage forces of masculinity. The first thing that comes to mind when discussing Gone To Earth is the beautiful aesthetic, with Powell & Pressburger using technicolor to perfection in capturing the beauty of nature which man inhabits. From the piercing blue skies that hang over these characters, to the sun-kissed fields and landscapes, Gone To Earth brings nature itself to life, making it a character in this tragic tale of a woman who is unable to escape her own fate. The characterizations in Gone To Earth are fascinating in their own right, but what makes this film so interesting to me is how they essentially serve as a metaphor for man's relationship with nature. I'd argue that Hazel herself is symbolic representation of nature, and possibly feminism, being the daughter of a gypsy and a sensitive animal lover who lives a tranquil life where she is one with nature. As the film progresses it becomes apparent that Hazel's own innocence and naivete will eventually lead to her undoing, as she becomes a character trapped between the wants and desires of two men, being at their mercy, which inevitably leads to her destruction. Using a Victorian melodrama to dissect humanities relationship with the forces of nature, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's Gone To Earth is a beautiful-looking technicolor treat.
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