Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Looking back at Powell's work in this decade has sometimes occasioned a fair amount of revisionist criticism in which the previous dismissive or less-than-adequate reviews of his films have been reconsidered. Gone to Earth is such a film. Once described as "overblown" and "intrinsically pretentious," it is now regarded as a full-blown work of art.

Set in the 1890s. Gone to Earth tells the story of a Shropshire maid who is the focus of the attentions of a local squire. The film was originally intended by producer Selznick as a romantic vehicle for his fiancée, actress Jennifer Jones, hut Powell's execution "muted" the melodramatic excesses of the archetypal Hollywood film and instead chose to express emotion through the use of color and symbolism. The technicolor range of muted russets, browns and reds in the depiction of the English countryside is startling in contrast to Hollywood's use of color.

Selznick had Rouben Mamoulian reshoot several scenes and then cut thirty minutes from the picture, which was released as The Wild Heart. This fully restored (by the British Film Institute) ver-sion proves that the film is one of the unsung triumphs of the 1950s.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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