Night on Earth [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1991]

Jim Jarmusch's globe-trotting study of five cab rides taking place at the same time in five different cities gets a fresh presentation on DVD in this excellent release from the Criterion Collection, created with the participation and approval of the filmmaker. Night On Earth has been given a widescreen transfer to disc in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which is letterboxed on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. The subtly distinct look for each segment (created by cinematographer Frederick Elmes) is preserved in this transfer, and shows how masterfully Jarmusch can manipulate the color palate, despite his fondness for working in black and white. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, and the lively sound mix is crisp and well-detailed on this DVD, with Tom Waits' musical score benefiting from the careful treatment. The dialogue for the various segments is in English, French, Italian and Finnish, and no multiple language options appear, though the disc contains two sets of subtitles -- one translating non-English dialogue, the other presenting the full dialogue track for the hard of hearing. The disc includes an optional audio commentary from cinematographer Elmes and location sound mixer Drew Kunin, who talk about the many logistical challenges presenting by the shooting of each segment; among the other bonus features are a profile of Jarmusch created for Belgian television in 1991, an audio-only feature in which Jarmusch answers questions submitted to him by film fans from around the world, and a booklet which includes a separate essay on each of Night On Earth's five stories. Night On Earth has never looked or sounded as good as it does on Criterion's DVD release, and fans of Jim Jarmusch will find it a worthy addition to their collections.
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Overview

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Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch
  • Selected-scene commentary by director of photography Frederick Elmes and location sound mixer Drew Kunin
  • Q&A with Jarmusch, in which he responds to questions sent by fans
  • 1992 Belgian television interview with Jarmusch
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Plus: A booklet featuring new essays by Thom Andersen, Paul Auster, Bernard Eisenschitz, Goffredo Fofi, and Peter Von Bagh, and the lyrics to Tom Wait's original songs from the film

Synopsis

Night on Earth
Jim Jarmusch's deadpan comedy-of-the-night is a collection of five vignettes taking place in the enclosed space of a cab ride, each occurring simultaneously in five different cities and five different time zones -- Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. The Los Angeles episode takes place at dusk, as high-powered casting agent Victoria (Gena Rowlands) gets a ride from L.A. International Airport with tomboy driver Corky (Winona Ryder), who would rather go on driving her cab than take up Victoria's offer to make her a superstar. In New York City, novice East German cabbie Helmut Grokenberger (Armin Mueller-Stahl) has difficulty working the foot pedals to his hack, and his passenger, YoYo (Giancarlo Esposito), ends up driving himself to Brooklyn, picking up the shrill-voiced Angela (Rosie Perez) along the way. In Paris, an African cab driver (Isaach De Bankolé) ejects a collection of drunken African diplomats from his cab and picks up a beautiful but surly blind girl (Béatrice Dalle). In Rome, cab driver Gino (Roberto Benigni) engages in a heartfelt monologue confessing his past sexual exploits to his passenger, a priest who is dying of a heart attack in the back seat. The film winds down in the last melancholy vignette, taking place in Helsinki, as taxi driver Mika (Matti Pellonpää) picks up three inebriated workmen who regale him with hard-luck stories. But Mika has a much harsher story of his own to tell. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Gena Rowlands
    Gena Rowlands - Victoria Snelling
  • Winona Ryder
    Winona Ryder - Corky
  • Giancarlo Esposito
    Giancarlo Esposito - YoYo
  • Rosie Perez
    Rosie Perez - Angela
  • Armin Mueller-Stahl
    Armin Mueller-Stahl - Helmut Grokenberger

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