La Terra trema (1948)

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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, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for La Terra trema

All Critics (9)

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."

Apr 25, 2015 | Full Review…

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

Apr 17, 2015 | Full Review…

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

Aug 21, 2012 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Visconti used real Sicilian fishermen as non-actors expressing their circumstances and beliefs. The effect is a powerful portrait of graceful human dignity caught between the cruelty of the sea and opportunistic greed.

Apr 12, 2009 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…

It has an operatic quality.

Oct 10, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Operatic neo-realist tale of downtrodden fishermen

Jan 26, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for La Terra trema

½

A sadly misguided film that deserves more credit for what it wants to say than for how it does it, since it is marred by stiff, unnatural performances by non-actors (like watching a school play), heavy-handed dialogue, a redundant narration and a formal rigor not so in tune with the kind of neorealist docufiction that Visconti wants to make.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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
Dimitris Springer

Super Reviewer

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