I love China, I really do. I nearly managed to get there but then I didn't after all. I love The Last Emperor and I was eager to watch The Good Earth too. I though it would be a light Hollywood melodrama, but it wasn't. It was though as hell to watch it, sometimes it was truly heartbreaking and hold on to your seats (SPOILER maybe): there's no happy ending.
Not is that, it ruins it, oh no. It's much ahead of its time and it deals with very unpleasant things such as famine, locusts, misery, revolution, cruelty and slavery. So if you expect Mary Poppins to turn up don't watch it.
The performances are brilliant: Paul Muni proved many times that he had the gift to play characters from any nations (he was the best at playing French heroes), and although he does not look Chinese at all, his performance still remains credibly and moving. Luise Rainer won a deserved Academy Award for her heartbreaking performance as O-Lan. The performance leans towards supporting, but after all I think lead is much more fair. This win seems universally hated, which I don't quite understand, one guy even said that this is the worst win ever. (Well I suggest him to watch Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls) Most people think Garbo should have won for Camille, but personally I did not like that performance as much as Rainer's or Irene Dunne's in The Awful Truth (also nominated). I'm sort of torn between the two ladies.
The directing is also magnificent, same for the Oscar-winnning cinematography, great art directing, costumes, heartbreaking story. I think the only negative point of the film is that it did not go as deep as it could have, that's why it missed the must-see list and got only to the should-see list even though it's better than a usual should-see movie.
Ok, to sum up I loved this movie and I suggest you to watch it. It's worth two hours and eighteen minutes of your life.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Directing (Sidney Franklin); Best Actress (Luise Rainer, WON); Best Cinematography (WON), Best Editing
My wins: Best Actress (Rainer tied with Irene Dunne, because they're both so damn brilliant)