La Terra trema (1948) - Rotten Tomatoes

La Terra trema (1948)

La Terra trema




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Luchino Visconti's pseudo-documentary look at the exploitation of Sicilian fishermen was based on Giovanni Verga's 1881 novel I Malavoglia. The townspeople of Aci Trezza, Sicily, portrayed themselves, speaking in their native dialects and fretting about economic hardship for over 160 minutes of screen time. As nobly neorealist as such an endeavor must have seemed, it died at the box office upon initial release, leading Visconti to add narration in standard Italian. The truth is that the film wasn't all that realistic to begin with, as Visconti's unshakable attachment to cinematic artifice led him to pretty up the dreary goings-on with camera virtuosity that seems completely misplaced given the events onscreen. More grueling than illuminating, this film was the first of a proposed trilogy (the remaining films were to deal with Sicilian peasants and miners) that Visconti mercifully never got around to making. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Antonio Pietrangeli, Luchino Visconti
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 30, 2002
Victor Film

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Critic Reviews for La Terra trema

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | August 23, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Most unfortunately, Mr. Visconti, who also wrote the scenario, has taken his spunky protagonist and literally drowned him in woes, even -- let's face it -- soapsuds.

Full Review… | June 10, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

It's as if Sicily has existed in a bubble, unchanging for a century as sons take over the boats of their fathers and children apprentice at their feet, taking their place in "a hopeless slavery."

Full Review… | April 25, 2015
Parallax View

Luchino Visconti's epic account of peasant defiance inflamed and squelched, where to live in poverty is to drown on dry land

Full Review… | April 17, 2015

It's a rough slog... but La terra trema shows that Visconti, with just his second feature, was already a master of the medium.

Full Review… | August 21, 2012
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for La Terra trema


A sadly misguided film that deserves more credit for what it wants to say than how it does it, since it is marred by stiff, unnatural performances by non-actors (like watching a school play), a heavy-handed dialogue, a redundant narration and a formal rigor incompatible with the type of neorealist docufiction that Visconti wants to make.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

Black and white films used to prevent us several times from actually noticing the underlying notes.The incredible fact is..Terra Trema must be one of the openly,politically charged emeralds of film-making.The fishermen are nothing more but pawns of the system,the all-seeing machine.

Dimitris Springer

Super Reviewer


I would have enjoyed this film a lot more if it were shorter. the story was well-conceived, the acting was convincing (especially for non-actors), and certain elements of dialogue and cinematography were very touching and poetic. the pacing, however, was very slow and the overall film is just very depressing. I understand how that contributes to Visconti's neorealist vision, but I think it just dragged on a bit too long.

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