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Film / Night on Earth

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A 1991 independent film, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, that follows five different taxi drivers from all over the world and their encounters with a customer that each picks up during their night shift. The movie is a unique blend of art house drama and comedy and features an international All-Star Cast including Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, and Roberto Benigni. The soundtrack is by Tom Waits.

Not related to the documentary series Night on Earth.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The Rome cabbie picks up a priest who he mistakes for a bishop till the priest tells him otherwise. Later on when the priest dies of a heart attack, the Rome cabbie keeps referring to him as a bishop
  • Anthology Film: This is a movie that follows five different drivers over the course of a night.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: The Helsinki segment begins and ends with them - one comedic, one less so.
    • Mika asks the three passengers if they called for a taxi; they respond "No, we called for a garbage truck, but you will have to do".
    • At the end, Aki has been abandoned by his friends, forced to pay for the whole taxi ride, and is unceremoniously dumped on his drunk ass in the snow at what may or may not be his home address.
    Mika: Do you know where you are?
    Aki: ...Helsinki.
  • Blind People Wear Sunglasses: Discussed, when a blind woman isn't wearing sunglasses:
    Taxi Driver: Say, don't blind people always wear dark glasses?
    Blind Woman: I wouldn't know, I've never seen a blind person.
  • Boomerang Bigot: The two African diplomats display this attitude towards the Ivory Coast driver in the Paris segment (although they're from Cameroon, not the Ivory Coast).
  • Book Ends: The film starts during daylight going into night and in the final scene takes place as the early morning starts.
    • Also the first segment (Los Angeles) starts with Corky dropping off two drunk passengers and the final segment (Helsinki) begins with Mika picking up three drunk passengers.
  • Bubblegum Popping: Besides smoking, this is Corky's other habit in her segment.
  • Call-Back: Happens at least twice:
    • A statue of Rocky and Bullwinkle can be seen in the Los Angeles segment, and then in the New York segment Angela asks about YoYo and Helmut's hats "What is this, the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show?"
    • In both the Paris and Rome segments, the driver removes a sign that a passenger calls attention to ("No Smoking" in Rome, "Notify the driver if you have a preferred route" in Paris).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Both Helmut and the Rome cabbie are fairly eccentric
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Both YoYo and Angela give these out to each other during their argument.
  • Culture Clash: The whole Los Angeles segment with Corky and Victoria represents the difference between the working class Corky and rich Victoria.
  • DrivesLikeCrazy: Helmut is so bad at driving. YoYo has to take over driving after not even being in his car for a minute.
    • The Rome Cabbie is this way too. Not helped by the fact he is driving at night with sunglasses.
  • Disposing of a Body: Played for laughs, when the Rome cabbie gets rid of the priest body by dropping him off at a park. He even puts sunglasses on him.
  • Dysfunctional Family: If YoYo and Angela who are in laws are anything to go by with their endless bicker and swearing at each other.
  • Everybody Smokes: Each segment other than New York has at least one character who smokes. Corky from Los Angeles in particular is an avid chain smoker, lighting up every couple of minutes.
  • French Accordion: Takes place in several different cities (Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki), with a similar-sounding piece of music playing during the establishing shots. The soundtrack on the Paris segment includes accordions.
  • Humble Goal: Corky despite being offered a role in a film, turns it down because she is more interested in following her dream as a mechanic
  • Hypocrite: YoYo jokes about Helmut name sounding like helmet but when Helmut points out how YoYo has the same name of a toy, he gets noticeable defensive.
  • Jerkass: The two African diplomats come off as unbearable. The blind woman in the same segment is also pretty standoffish.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first four segments are fairly lighthearted but the Helsinki segment is much darker.
  • Nameless Narrative: None of the characters in the Paris segment are named.
  • No Smoking: The Rome cabbie smokes in his car despite the fact he has a no smoking sign in his car. He "fixes" the situation by removing the sign.
  • Odd Friendship: Naïve Newcomer East German ex-circus clown Helmut and street-smart New Yorker YoYo, at least for the duration of their taxi ride.
  • Offscreen Crash: Ends the Paris segment.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Heartbreakingly with Mika's story. He and his wife had a baby who was so premature the doctors told them not to have any hope... so he refused to let himself love the girl, put all his energy into pushing all feelings towards her away and accept that she would die, but she just kept on living and living and living. And on the very night he has a Love Epiphany and realises that he loves his tiny daughter with all his heart and rushes to the hospital because he knows his love can give her life, she dies.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Mika the driver in the Helsinki segment story is a tragic example of this.
    • Aki in the same segment is certainly having a rough day losing his job, his paid off car getting destroyed, and getting divorced after discovering his daughter is pregnant. Plus after his friends hear Mika's story, they completely become unsympathetic towards Aki's problems which Aki is not even aware of.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Two female examples in this case. Both Corky in the Los Angeles segment and Angela in the New York segment are quite fond of dropping F-bombs.
  • Slice of Life: The crux of the movie is about the interaction and bond the taxi driver will have with a customer they pick up.
  • Stealth Pun: The Cameroonian diplomats decide their Ivorian taxi driver's nationality is one. He's not amused.
    Il voit rien! [He can't see anything!]
  • Sunglasses at Night: The Rome Cabbie starts off his segment this way-it noticeably affects his driving too.
  • The Taxi: Its a movie about taxi drivers.
  • Tomboy: Corky displays traits of this such as her interest in wanting to be a mechanic.
  • With Friends Like These...: Aki's friends after hearing Mika's story, no longer feel sorry for Aki (who certainly was having a horrible day) and act like his problems are no big issue. They even call him a leech and ditch him in the cab while he is still passed out.