La Terra Trema (Classic Film Pick)
Luchino Visconti's third film is set in Aci Trezza, a poor Sicilian fishing port village being exploited by wholesale merchants. Based on Giovanni Verga's novel, the 1948 film concentrates on a family of fishermen who attempt to break the economic stranglehold of their capitalist oppressors by starting their own private business. The comparatively well-off family take out a loan to buy their own boat, against the wishes of their impoverished community of fishermen. As its title presages "La Terra Trema" is an earth-shattering example of neo-realist filmmaking that feels as much like a documentary as it does a fictional narrative film. Visconti leans too much on explanatory narration view points, but his use of real Sicilian fishermen as non-actors expressing their daily rituals, harsh circumstances, and deeply ingrained beliefs is profound. The overall effect is a powerful portrait of human dignity caught between the cruelty of the sea and the opportunistic greed of a few. As a portrait of an Italian family's economic collapse at the hands of mother nature and an economically repressive society, "La Terra Trema" exposes fundamental humanitarian conflicts that capitalism breeds.
(A+) (Five Stars)