Night on Earth

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Night on Earth
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Jarmusch
Written byJim Jarmusch
Produced by
  • Jim Jarmusch
  • Jim Stark
CinematographyFrederick Elmes
Edited byJay Rabinowitz
Music byTom Waits
Distributed by
Release dates
Running time
129 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • German
  • Italian
  • French
  • Finnish
Box office$2.1 million[1]

Night on Earth is a 1991 American comedy-drama anthology film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It is a collection of five vignettes, taking place during the same night, concerning the temporary bond formed between taxi driver and passenger in five cities: Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. The action in the vignettes takes place at the same time, moving from Los Angeles in the United States to Helsinki, Finland. The scene in each city appears to occur later and later in the night due to the changing time zones. Jarmusch wrote the screenplay in about eight days, and the choice of certain cities was largely based on the actors with whom he wanted to work.[2] The soundtrack of the same name is by Tom Waits. The Criterion Collection released the film on DVD and Blu-ray on April 9, 2019.[3]


Los Angeles[edit]

As evening falls, tomboy cabby Corky picks up Hollywood executive Victoria Snelling from the airport, and as Corky drives, Victoria tries to conduct business on her phone. Despite their extreme differences socially, the two develop a certain connection. When Victoria suggests that cab driving is not much of a career, Corky counters that her dream in fact is to become a mechanic. During the ride, Victoria, who is a casting agent, comes to realise that Corky would be ideal for a part in a movie she is casting, but Corky rejects the offer because she intends to be a mechanic. The taxi is a 1985 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Wagon.

New York[edit]

Helmut, an immigrant from East Germany who was a clown in his home country, has found work as a taxi driver. After dark, he picks up a passenger named YoYo, a streetwise young man who wants to go to Brooklyn. Increasingly alarmed at Helmut's inability to handle an automatic transmission, ignorance of New York geography, and feeble command of the English language, YoYo takes over the wheel. During the drive, YoYo sees his sister-in-law Angela on the street and forces her into the cab to take her back home. Helmut is clearly amused by the vituperation between the two. After Angela and Yoyo depart, Helmut struggles to drive back to Manhattan, muttering "New York...New York." The taxi is a 1983 Ford LTD Crown Victoria.


At night, a cab picks up two drunk African diplomats, who mock the lowly driver and find it hilarious that he is from the Ivory Coast. In French, when he says he is ivoirien, they say il voit rien (he can't see a thing). Sick of their insults, he throws them out, forgetting to get money off them. Next he picks up an attractive young woman, who is blind. As she cannot see the colour of his skin, he asks her where she thinks he is from. After a moment's thought, she says the Ivory Coast. Prickly and sexually provocative, she rejects most of his efforts to be friendly, regarding him as beneath her, but he is genuinely fascinated by her and her predicament. So much so that, after dropping her off, he watches her walk beside a canal in the dark and he drives into another car, whose driver angrily accuses him of being blind. The taxi is a 1980 Peugeot 504.


In the early morning hours, an eccentric cabbie picks up a priest. As he drives, he starts to confess his sins. Much to the priest's discomfort, he goes into great detail about how he discovered his sexuality, first with a pumpkin and then with a sheep, then details a love affair he had with his brother's wife, miming the actions and mouthing the cries. Already ailing, overwhelmed by the barrage of unwanted information, the priest has a fatal heart attack. Unable to revive him, the cabbie leaves him on a bench to be found once it is light. The taxi is a 1976 Fiat 128.


After an evening spent drinking heavily, three workers, one of whom has just been fired from his job and has passed out, climb into a cab to return home. On the way, the two conscious workers talk about the terrible situation their unconscious friend is in, being out of work and having to face a divorce and a pregnant daughter. The driver, Mika, then tells them all about how he and his wife had been trying for a baby for a long time. When his wife finally got pregnant, the baby was born early and had to be placed in an incubator and the doctor told them the baby would only live a week. The baby lived a few weeks longer than expected, giving Mika and his wife hope. However, the baby eventually died. The workers are terribly moved and depressed by the story, and even become unsympathetic toward their drunken, laid-off companion. Leaving him in the cab, they stagger off to their homes. Mika wakes him, takes payment and leaves. Worker sits on the ground, passing neighbours greet him and he replies back. The taxi is a 1973 Volvo 144.



On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 76% based on 25 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10.[4]



  1. ^ "Night on Earth (1991)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 2, 2024.
  2. ^ Andrew, Geoff (November 15, 1999). "Jim Jarmusch interviewed by Geoff Andrew". The Guardian. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  3. ^ "Night on Earth (1991)". The Criterion Collection. Archived from the original on March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2024.
  4. ^ "Night on Earth". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 27, 2022.
  5. ^ Piazza, Sara (2015). Jim Jarmusch: Music, Words and Noise. UK: Reaktion Books. p. 388. ISBN 9781780234694. Archived from the original on July 28, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bernd Wahlbrinck (2011). Jim Jarmusch's Night on Earth: The New York Episode. Germany: Tumbleweed. ISBN 978-3-00-035771-8.

External links[edit]