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Night on Earth (Widescreen Collector's Edition) [VHS]

99 customer reviews

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(Mar 04, 1997)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Lisanne Falk, Alan Randolph Scott, Anthony Portillo
  • Directors: Jim Jarmusch
  • Writers: Jim Jarmusch
  • Producers: Jim Jarmusch, Demetra J. MacBride, Jim Stark, Masahiro Inbe, Noboru Takayama
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Language: English, Finnish, French, German, Italian
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: March 4, 1997
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303614353
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,401 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Jim Jarmusch's 1991 ensemble comedy turns a gimmick into a revelation. The story begins in Los Angeles one evening at 7:07 p.m. A talent agent (Gena Rowlands) gets into the back of a taxi driven by a sullen, chain-smoking young woman (Winona Ryder), and over the course of their bumpy conversation, Rowlands's character becomes convinced that the cabby would be perfect for a particular part in a movie. Meanwhile, at that very moment, taxi drivers in New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki are all having unique encounters with a variety of fares, breaking through that invisible social barrier between the front and back seats of their cars, often to absurd or touching effect. Among them are cabby Roberto Benigni's ranting confessions to a priest, Armin Mueller-Stahl's relinquishing of the wheel to a stunned Giancarlo Esposito, and Isaach De Bankolé's relentless discussion of sight and sex with an angry, blind woman (Beatrice Dalle). What emerges is a chain of brief intimacies (not always welcomed by the characters), like a number of matches lit simultaneously across the globe, flickering brightly for a few short moments. This popular work by Jarmusch helped confirm his reputation as a fiercely independent filmmaker of rare perception, rigor, and classical sensibility matched with original thinking. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Itamar Katz on June 19, 2005
There isn't much going on in Jim Jarmusch film, but there's a lot happening beneath the surface. Even more than he is a terrific filmmaker and a wonderful screenwriter, Jarmusch is a great observer of human nature. Even though 'Dead Man' and 'Ghost Dog' are the films that gave him more widespread commercial success, these are not typical of his style; Jarmusch's early film hardly have any plot at all, and all they give us is fragments of human lives. His approach towards his characters is always very up-close and personal, but never first-person; the viewer is always an observant, sometimes as comfortable as a close friend, sometimes too close for comfort, almost a voyeur. And yet, with his incredible insight into the human soul and what makes it tick, Jarmusch makes every one of his characters come to full life - even though there are no internal monologues, no revealing close-ups; Jarmusch creates his characters solely through their behavior; and he understands people so well, that in doing so he completely transcends the boundaries of language, culture and nationality.

Like Jarmusch's previous film, 'Mystery Train', 'Night On Earth' gives us several different stories about different characters from different backgrounds. This time, though, there is not the slightest connection between the stories, except a thematic one: we are shown five stories taking place in taxi cabs in five different major cities around the world.

The first story takes place in Los Angeles, and in it is a twenty year old (but she looks seventeen at most!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on January 18, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
If you haven't seen this 1991 classic comedy, see it now.
The premise is that we follow events during one night in taxis in several places around the world: New York, LA, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. The best, by far, the one I always think of first when someone mentions this incredibly funny and touching film, is the one set in Rome with Roberto Benigni as the taxi driver. He gives this rambling monologue sort of a confession about lambs and pumpkins and sex that you HAVE to see the movie to appreciate. There's a priest in the back seat getting more and more `cardiac challenged' by the specific nature of this confession. It's a marvelous set piece, and I always rewind and watch that sequence at least 2-3 more times. It is just as funny on the 3rd viewing as it was on the first.
Top notch.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By P. Morris on October 27, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
I watched this film late at night, when every sane person is supposed to be asleep, out of their cars and in their beds. Life still goes on, however, for the taxi-drivers who move people from one quiet location to another in the wee hours of the night. The locations are quiet, but the people are not, and the dialogue in this movie is humorous, meaningful, and real. A temporary bond is formed between passenger and driver (sometimes the roles are even reversed, as in the New York vignette featuring Helmut Grokenberger and YoYo, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl and Giancarlo Esposito, respectively). Armin Mueller-Stahl, born in 1930, may be relatively unknown to American audiences (as opposed to, say, Rosie Perez), but he did play Vertikoff in the George Clooney flick "The Peacemaker" (1997). Who is the stranger at the wheel who is responsible for bringing one home? What kind of person drives late at night, waiting for the dispatcher's call to a new address? A passenger has to pay him or her at the end of the ride, but there is still a feeling of gratitude, and even affection, towards this gruff conveyor of souls. "You're a good man, Mika," the half-drunk, initially hostile, Finnish workers tell their driver (played by Matti Pellonpää) at the end of their journey. Or a battle of wits takes place, as evidenced by the Paris vignette. Ivorian actor Isaach De Bankolé (who also appears in Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes") is great here as a luckless "taxiste" whose prying questions are turned against him by his blind passenger (played by Béatrice Dalle). Roberto Benigni is of course hilarious, and does here what he does best: rapid, hilarious dialogue with a lot of gesticulation and wide grins.Read more ›
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Hall on August 7, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
So it only took 16 years for it's first USA release on DVD, but I think it will be worth the wait. I only recently parted with my VHS copy of this film when Criterion announced it's release. While obviously I've not seen the release, there is no reason Criterion will disappoint. For those who haven't seen the film (and I've met dozens of people who still haven't) I believe it to be Jarmusch's best for many reasons.

With five stories (five cabs, five drivers, five cities in the world), all occurring simultaneously, it examines Jarmusch's fascination with the crossing and meeting of cultures and classes. The film is jammed packed with humor, pathos, sadness, thought provoking stories of people that you actually care about after only 20 minutes and so much more. Tom Waits (a regular contributor to the work of Jarmusch) does not appear in the film, but wrote the soundtrack instead (so in some ways is in the entire film!). I would have loved to have seen a 6th story with Waits as the cabbie!!

Every actor is awesome, some giving a career highlight performance, including Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, Roberto Benigni (who was mostly unknown at the time), and several European actors that I've never seen elsewhere, but have never forgotten all these years later.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite story, because like a great short story collection, my favorite keeps changing. The Italian story (with Benigni) is the slightest story with none of the serious subtext the other stories have, but it is also the funniest, so it's hard not to love it. Benigni, for me, has never been better.
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