Interpreting Another Earth

*Warning. Major Spoilers Ahead*

Another Earth (2011) is a beautiful indie film that is an elegant emotional exploration of our longing for redemption and second chances. The sci-fi elements serve, for the most part, as background ploy for bringing to life that possibility of meeting another you who might not have made the same mistakes that you did. (The scientific basis of another completely identical Earth appearing and moving in the manner shown in the film is extremely sloppy, which can be a turn-off for many.) The way film ends leaves much to think about, not just in terms of emotional processing, but also because several interpretations are possible. Below I'll try to outline some of the explanations that seem plausible to me. One crucial element regarding the different interpretations is deciding at what exact point the synchronicity between the two storylines is broken.

* The accident never happened on Earth 2, probably because Rhonda 2 looked at the sky towards Earth 1 in the opposite direction to Rhonda 1, and therefore the car veered away from the collision course. John 2 and his family are still alive. Rhonda 2 goes on to MIT, and has a successful life. Eventually she travels to Earth 1, either because she won the essay competition in Earth 2 as well, or because John 1 went there and told her what happened to Rhonda 1, leading her to travel to Earth 1, where she ends up face to face with Rhonda 1. (Various alternating shots show Rhonda in a white dress, joyful and amidst flowers, while for most part she is shown in a black-blue dress with an over-all depressed demeanor. The former may in fact be depictions of Rhonda 2.)

* The accident happened on Earth 2 as well. Both Rhondas go through the same events. However, synchronicity is broken when Rhonda 1 gives her ticket to John 1 as a gesture of repentance, while Rhonda 2 keeps her ticket and travels to Earth 1. This is a pessimistic ending of sorts, because John's family is dead on both Earths, and John 1's hope of reuniting with his family will be dashed. (Rhonda, while she is in her attic, is holding a white ticket. The ticket Rhonda leaves at John's house is a black ticket. Some believe this means that these are two different Rhondas. We probably don't realize there are possibly many scenes which alternate between the two Earths.)

* The accident happened on Earth 2 as well. Both Rhondas go through the same events. However, synchronicity is broken when Rhonda 2 musters enough courage to admit her identity to John 2 and ask for his forgiveness instead of lying that she's a house-cleaning maid. She goes on to overcome her guilt, finds peace in her life, wins the essay and travels to Earth 1. (Again, the Rhonda in the white dress amidst flowers may be Rhonda 2.)

* There are some who argue that the entire existence of Earth 2 is a projected fantasy on Rhonda's part, an exteriorization of Rhonda's internal monologue, so to speak, and her longing for redemption in the possibility of a world where a different Rhonda might have done differently. The mysterious character of Purdeep would support this interpretation, who is inexplicable to me otherwise, but I find it unsatisfactory to consider Earth 2 as entirely metaphorical.


Michelle said…
A great scene in the movie