“Another Earth” – An Old Idea Made New
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
At Marvel Comics the idea of a duplicate earth was a familiar theme. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe reminds the editors there have been three versions of the hypothetical planet that mirrors earth.
The third Counter-Earth came when I was publisher of Marvel, a transition to the Heroes Reborn event. It was part of a “pocket universe” created by the son of Reed Richards and his wife Sue, bastions of The Fantastic Four.
Fans didn’t like Heroes Reborn but applauded when I brought the characters back to the Marvel Universe with a Heroes Return event. Even so, everyone thought this Counter-Earth was a cool concept.
Actually a mirror earth was first hypothesized by the Greek philosopher Philolaus, a means of counterbalancing our planet in his non-geocentric view of the universe.
Newbie director Mike Cahill must have been boning up on his presocratic philosophy – or else reading his old comic books – for he adapted this plot device for his sci-fi drama “Another Earth,” winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
“Another Earth” is currently colliding with audiences at the Tropic Cinema. It’s a solar encounter that getting good buzz.
Not a Buck Roger space opera, most of the story takes place firmly on this earth, the interactions between a brilliant high school student Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) and Yale professor John Burroughs (William Mapother), whose wife and son she killed in an automobile accident. Driving under the influence, she was distracted by a radio announcement about a new planet that was approaching earth.
Burroughs doesn’t know Rhoda is responsible for his loss, so when she later shows up at his home pretending to be a maid looking for work he hires her. As they develop a relationship that goes beyond housecleaning, she must decide whether to confess her role in the tragedy that altered his life. But that’s complicated when she wins a contest, awarding her a ticket on the first space flight to visit this approaching identical earth.
What if up there on this mirror earth your doppelgänger has made better choices, like not driving drunk, not ruining her life and the life of the man she respects? Is it a second chance?
Mike Cahill filmed “Another Earth” in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, in order to cut production costs by using his home as a set and calling on his local pals for help. He and his star Brit Marling hatched the plot. They were able to convince William Mapother, a professional actor known for his role as Ethan Rom on TV’s “Lost” to sign on for the piddling sum of $100 a day. An indie film on a low budget. But with a big return.
Shucks, we paid comic book editors better than that.
[from Solares Hill]