The second haunting film from director Luchino Visconti presents a wrenching study of a family struggling to find happiness against the backdrop of Sicily's fishing community. Real Sicilian locals played all of the village... more »rs, whose lives undergo dramatic changes when they plot to overthrow the wholesalers depriving them of a decent living. Against the odds, they still enjoy love, laughter, and friendship within their community. Experience the drama and visual poetry of this international classic, now presented in its complete European cut.« less
Charles S. Tashiro | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 08/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have had something like a thirty year desire to see this, director Luchino Visconti's second film. To my knowledge, it has never enjoyed wide theatrical distribution, which given its content and tone, is hardly surprising. A relentlessly downbeat view of the lives of Sicilian fishermen, it's also a tad on the long side. Still, to have it available on video is a wonderful treat. I can't imagine myself watchiing it frequently, but it has a compositional integrity that more than compensates for the depressing subject matter.Never having seen the film projected, I cannot gauge the effectiveness of the video transfer. My guess is that it is so-so: good enough to give a sense of what the film looks like but not produced with enough care to bring out all the richness of detail and contrast. The opening credits, for example, superimposed over images of dawn in the fishing village, are barely intelligible. With a little more effort, the disc producers could probably have found a way to make the sequence work on video. As it is, we more or less have to imagine what it would look like."La Terra Trema" is Italian Neorealism at its most epic. Unlike De Sica's "Bicycle Thief," for example, which reveals the tragedy of one man's decline, "Terra" self-consciously uses the Valastro family as an example of a larger phenomenon. Visconti makes no effort to conceal his political prejudices, at one point clearly identifying the corrupt, exploitive wholesalers with the recently deposed Mussolini regime while relentlessly identifying the central characters' problems with social and economic forces.The hopelessness of the situation is relieved only by the internal cohesion of the family which, nonetheless, undergoes severe tests. While we can well imagine the Valastros sinking even lower after the film's ambiguous ending, what is most striking about the film more than fifty years after its release, is its essential *optimism.* The call for a united front to withstand exploitation is good, old-fashioned Marxism at its most bald and unapologetic. The film's unabashed faith in human nature and the possibility of positive change feels not so much naive as nostalgic, the product of a time when it was still possible to believe in broad, systemic change. Wrapped in Visconti's well-known eye for sensuous spectacle, "La Terra Trema" is a good two-and-a-half hour tract just shy of convincing."
What We Need are Tax Cuts for the Fishermen
Randy Keehn | Williston, ND United States | 06/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had read about this movie because it comes up on an occassional "All Time Greatest Movie" lists. As such, I was aware of the fact that the movie was made with a complete cast of amateurs taken from a Sicilian fishing village which was also the location of the movie. The opening credits substantiate that by not naming the actors but, rather, citing them as the people of the village. They do a very good, sometimes excellent, job. There might not be an Academy Award-level preformance in the bunch but they out-shine the cast of most "B" movies I've seen. In fact, only the person who plays Mara's boy friend, the mason, give anything like a one-dimensional preformance and it is mostly noticeable by how it stands apart from the others. The story is that of a struggle against the powers that be; sometimes the powers are people, sometimes it is nature. The focus is on one family who tries to overcome their poverty by buying their own boat and becoming their own boss. The instigator is the son, Ntonio, who has been in the army and seen the outside world. He is ready to level the playing field and, at first, the family succeeds. However, the writer/director Visconti does not intend to give us a quick happy ending. Misfortune strikes and we see success turn to failure. The movie becomes a sort of Marxist message that only when everyone works collectively for the common good can we all succeed. However, I did not feel that this message was overbearing to the viewer who is not inclined to buy into that philosophy. There is much in the movie that could even substantiate Capitalism. Look, for example, how Ntonio and his family succeed when they save up their money, mortgage their house and go into business for themselves. The writer/director's point might be that their own greed led them to failure but it could easily be just a twist of fate that kept them from rising to the top. This example of individual initiative is a powerful part of the story. Nonetheless, it is the depths of the descent that comes after success that takes us through the film. I rated this film a "5 star" because of its' cinematic achievement. Visconti worked something short of a miracle on a shoestring in putting this film together. On the negative side, the movie is too long (Visconti appartently had to "cut" it to 160 minutes). In addition the politics is too one-sided. I don't profess to know how things were in a post-war fishing village in Sicily. I presume that much of the scenarios presented are close to the reality of the time and place. However, nothing succeeds like a good example and the idea that no one would attempt to duplicate the family's idea struck me more as a comment on the fishermen than a comment on the system. Still, the interpersonal relationships and the life in the village are brought to the screen in such an excellent way that I'll let the politics be."
Visconti Goes Fishing
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 09/15/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've searched a very long time to see this movie. I've noticed that all of Luchino Visconti's films are extremely hard to obtain. Now that I have finally seen this movie I have seen everything that is available on vhs or dvd by the great Visconti. "La Terra Trema" reminds me heavily of a film Visconti would make later entitled "Rocco & His Brothers". Both films deal with poor Sicilan families trying to make a living. Each family facing the injustice of the upper class vs the lower class. But between the two I must admit I prefer "Rocco..ect". Because it seems to be more about plot. "Rocco" has more of a story to tell. And it's three lead characters make the the movie. "La Terra Trema" is a little short on plot. And the film goes on way too long. The movie is over 2 hours. "La Terra Trema" is about the local fishing community. About the hardships the fisherman face when trying to sell their fish to the merchants. The merchants it is felt are cheating the fisherman out of decent pay. The begining moments of the film work quite well. But the plot cann't sustain the entire lenght of the plot. If this movie had been cut down to at least let's say 1 hour and 45 minutes this could of truly been an unforgettable Visconti masterpiece. As the film is now it's an enjoyable over-long Visconti epic and has choice acting moments,by non actors, & beautiful cinematography. Luchino Visconti is one of my all-time favorite film-makers. He had an unmatched talent for details. He has given us so many entertaining films such as "Ludwig", to me his masterpiece. Also "Rocco & His Brothers", "The Damned", & "The Innocent", his final film. "La Terra Trema" belongs high up on Visconti's list of films. If anything just for the acting. *** 1\2 out of ***** Bottom-line: One of Visconti's best films. A little long but has it's share of strong moments. Worth while for all Visconti fans."
Luchino Visconti, was a true poet of the image. An admirable creator of atmospheres a fundamental filmmaker who hardly accepts a special category. His magnificent employment of the camera, the mesmerizing scripts signed a successful and prominent trajectory.
La Terra Trema is a powerful portrait of a small village of fishermen, where the hopeless and the oppressive reality surrounds every single frame. At the moment you elaborate a list about primordial films of the Italian Neo Realism, this movie must necessarily included.
You will be a silent witness of a crowd of people who will face all sort of adversities; a bitter metaphor of that isolated micro cosmos of the Post War Italia, with its sorrows, afflictions and little rejoicings.
Expressive, incisive and unforgettable movie. A giant among the classics "
La Terra Trema
John Farr | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Through Visconti's unsparing lens, we witness the daily repetition of back-breaking labor and ongoing pain of injustice the fishermen face. All this is seen and felt amidst images of stark, breathtaking beauty. Featuring a brilliant use of non-actors, whose weathered faces each tell the same hard story, this fascinating, rewarding film has the impact of a documentary - and the unmistakable feel of truth.