Earthwork (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Earthwork (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Earthwork Photos

Movie Info

EARTHWORK is the true story of real-life crop artist Stan Herd (played by Oscar nominee and Spirit Award Winner for "Winter's Bone" John Hawkes, in his first starring role), told through a single episode of his life. In 1994, Stan traveled from Kansas to New York City and risked everything to create a massive environmental artwork on land owned by Donald Trump. The multi-acre piece was made from soil, rock, plants and vegetation near an underground railway tunnel. Stan recruited a number of homeless individuals living in the tunnel as his crew. Over the months it took to complete the earthwork, Stan dealt with the difficulties of bringing his unique, rural art form to an urban canvas and the many costs exacted upon his life. In an effort to show his unique perspective to a larger audience, Stan unexpectedly encountered the true meaning of his art and it's ultimate, lasting rewards. Shot almost entirely in rural Kansas (with a one-day shoot in New York City) on a minimal budget, EARTHWORK is Chris Ordal's feature film debut. Ordal, a University of Kansas alum, was taken by Stan Herd's dedication to his temporary art and found it the perfect story to tell through film, a permanent art form. "It was important to me that my first feature capture a story that needed to be told via the cinema. Stan Herd's art is temporary, eventually returning to the earth after it has lived its life. EARTHWORK is an attempt to share the beauty and truth that Stan creates with an audience through a medium that can last forever. Stan has to get people into a helicopter or a tall building in order for them to see his work, so getting his art on the big screen finally allows audiences to experience his art and discover his incredible story." The filmmakers were very determined to exemplify the spirit of Stan Herd throughout production, and thanks to an amazing and supportive crew, EARTHWORK was a production as "green" as the story it told. -- (C) Official Site
PG (for thematic elements, smoking and mild language)
Documentary , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


John Hawkes
as Stan Herd
Laura Kirk
as Jan Herd
James McDaniel
as Lone Wolf
Sam Greenlee
as El-Trac
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Earthwork

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9)

The story has dramatic reversals, humor, suspense and plenty of colorful, eccentric characters.

Full Review… | June 23, 2011
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

"Earthwork" takes an unexpected swerve but one that adds layers of meaning and emotion to a film that is as beautiful and wrenching as it is unassuming.

May 19, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Character actor John Hawkes, his rural demeanor tailor-made for hick pics, breaks through typecasting stereotypes in his nuanced portrayal of crop artist Stan Herd in Chris Ordal's ambitious Earthwork.

Full Review… | April 29, 2011
Top Critic

John Hawkes brings a laconic soulfulness to this ultra-low-key, only mildly involving tale of artistic pursuit.

Full Review… | April 29, 2011
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Directed, written and produced by Chris Ordal, "Earthwork" is best left to TV.

Full Review… | April 29, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

Earthwork's narrative follows too-familiar templates, and its characters lack the careful detail of Herd's own art.

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Earthwork


Beautiful story about a real artist and his struggle to get his art in the public eye. Delightful cast, uplifting story, truly enjoyable. I especially enjoyed getting to know the rag-tag group of homeless guys that Stan befriends and recruits to help him realize his masterpiece.

Ali Fraze
Ali Fraze

Before I get to commenting on Earthwork, the new biopic about Lawrence, Kan.-based crop artist Stan Herd, I have a couple of disclosures to make. First, my old boss Jon Niccum plays a journalist in the film. Second, if you've ever seen a photo of Herd's "The Ottawa Beanfield Cola War," I'm one of the 700 people who can been seen in the aerial photograph portraying giant, crushed soda cans. I didn't encounter Herd during the creation of that work. He left it to others to tell us what to do. It's hard to be a Kansan and not have an opinion of Herd's artwork. He works on huge canvases that can only be seen from the air. He creates his pictures by getting people to wear shirts that make up the colors he'll need for certain objects, or he'll grow crops that can do the trick as well. Neither is easy, and his artwork has been made all over the place here. Because he works in an area with a small population and a lot of open land, he quickly made a reputation here. Earning money for his labor was another matter. Earthwork begins in the early 1990s when Herd's career hit a troubling crossroads. The artist (played by John Hawkes, Winter's Bone) wanted to send his wife Janis (Laura Kirk) to medical school but could barely pay his bills. It's not that easy to sell artwork that's plowed over once it's been photographed. Full Review available at

Dan Lybarger
Dan Lybarger

I loved this movie!! John Hawkes is great; the visuals are stirring; and the story is captivating. Artists of all stripes (and those who appreciate art!!) will truly connect with this film. Must see!!!!

Matthew Hoy
Matthew Hoy

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