‘As The Earth Turns’ is a silent film that was originally released in 1938, and was written and directed by Richard.H.Lyford. After receiving warning messages from someone called ‘PAX’, the warnings of apocalyptic disasters are ignored. However, as they get worse, a reporter and soldier go to investigate, and find out who is sending the messages.
This was the last film of this genre that Lyford made. Considered an ‘indie’ filmmaker, Lyford would end up working at Disney. Before this, he created 50 plays, and 9 award winning films, all of which were never released for public viewing.
This film is an example of achieving what you can with very little, and the result is inspirational. The film industry had moved on from the silent era almost 10 years before this film’s release, with the release of ‘The Jazz Singer’ in 1921. Therefore, the decision to make this silent was presumably due to costs; Lyford used his own equipment, and the disaster sequences are displayed by using models, e.g.: trains and planes, as well as creating establishing shots via pencil drawings. The latter, especially, makes the film stand out and gives viewers a unique perspective on a shot that they are used to seeing.
The film draws in similar themes to ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, a film that would come out around 13 years later, as well as the character of PAX drawing a similar vein to that of Andrew Ryan, from the horror game ‘Bioshock’; if this film influenced those two properties in any way, that would come as no surprise to me. Lyford plays PAX, the German scientist who was appalled at what the Germans were doing during the First World War and exacts revenge on humanity because of this. He brings a glimpse into the Silent era furthermore; while the other lead actors act through the film as realistic as possible, aside from a few comedic scenes, Lyford plays PAX like the theatre actors before him, and gives the character an overdramatic feel, which suits the character.
‘As The Earth Turns’ was digitally restored by GT Recordings in 2019 and the restoration is impressive. Care has been taken to make sure this can be viewed in the best quality as possible without damaging any of the film reel. Furthermore, a musical score has been added, composed by Ed Hartman (‘KillJoys’ and ‘Lucifer’), that elevates the film. Despite being composed recently, the score blends in perfectly with the visuals, and sounds like it belongs in the same era.
‘As The Earth Turns’ is overall enjoyable. The digital restoration is an impressive piece of work and the new score adds to the visuals. ‘As The Earth Turns’ is also inspirational to any film-makers wanting to create their films, but are unsure of what steps to take.
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