La Terra trema (1948)




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, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Victor Film

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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."

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 20, 2012
Movie Metropolis

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.

Full Review… | April 12, 2009

It has an operatic quality.

Full Review… | October 9, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Operatic neo-realist tale of downtrodden fishermen

Full Review… | January 26, 2005

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 Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

It's a rather long and arduous film but it provides great insight into the poor lives of the fishermen. It's so evocative, it made me wanna join Marxism. Although, I am not sure what that even means.

Stefanos Tran
Stefanos Tran

The photography is very impressive and the story held my interest. But there are some problems. The most prominent is the use of voice-over narration, which is scattered liberally throughout the film and adds absolutely nothing. I also didn't buy into Visconti's socialist message. Yes, the deck is stacked against 'Ntoni and his family, but he could have made it if he hadn't made a bone-headed mistake. And the movie has a frustrating way of dropping plot threads when they're no longer useful.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

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