Gone to Earth Review

Image for Gone to Earth

In the Shropshire marches in the 1890s, free-spirited Hazel is torn between her husband, a mild parson (Cusack), and a dashing aristocrat (Farrar) to whom she is uncontrollably drawn.


This full-blooded rural melodrama affords the gorgeous Jones, with an astonishing accent, the opportunity to inflame passions left and right. When young George Cole spots Hazel in a new dress, he leers suggestively that she is like 'j-a-a-a-m', but the trouble comes from the fox-hunting sadist who takes her for a night of ‘bundling’ in but is clearly not a man to put up with her hunt sabotage as she tries to protect her pet vixen from his pack of hounds.

It's plain from the first that a tragic ending is in the cards, and the film works itself into a suitable frenzy before expiring during a climactic fox hunt. Gone to Earth finds the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger team working rather unhappily with egomaniac producer David O. Selznick, who was mainly concerned with making his wife look good, and tackling a novel by Mary Webb, a forgotten best-seller of the type parodied in Cold Comfort Farm, splurging the screen with sex, mysticism and the countryside in glowing colours.

The effect is of some weird crossbreed of Thomas Hardy and Hammer Films, frequently toppled into bathos by the performances of Jones, whose country girl would not be equaled in unlikeliness until Nastassja Kinski in Tess, and Farrar, who appears to be auditioning for the role of the evil squire in a Victorian bloodbath.

Nevertheless, this is a must-see film for its unashamed romanticism, its breathtaking visual delirium, the excellent performance of Cusack as the only rational person in the county and the sheer spirit with which the fundamental daftness of the plot is served up.

Rural romance galore