La terra trema: Episodio del mare directed by Luchino Visconti is one of the movies that have managed to make me feel depressed for days.
The first interesting thing about this movie is its cast. Right on the beginning, the actors are listed as Sicilian Fishermen. And indeed, the entire cast was composed of non-professional actors - real people that are portraying their lives. The story is settled in the village Trezza and those people truly are genuine fishermen and inhabitants of Trezza. Now, this really gives authentic feeling and you are going to care (more than usual) about those people and happenings that will take place in their lives.
Visconti was forced to sell some of his mother's jewelry and one of the family's apartments in Rome to finish this film. He got only one award - Golden Lion, which is absolutely amazing for me, simply because I think this movie, made almost as a documentary, deserves much, much more!
La terra trema: Episodio del mare is a heart breaking study of the Sicilian fishermen family Valastro. They struggle to survive, while being heavily exploited by fish wholesalers. But wholesalers are not their only enemy. There is also an unpredictable and dangerous sea.
The family Valastro tries to overcome their poverty by buying their own boat and becoming their own boss. They are forced to take mortgage on the only possession they have – their family house.
Valastro’s decision is welcomed and supported by the other inhabitants of Trezza, the same inhabitants that won’t have any mercy and compassion later on, when faith turned down its favors to the Valastro family. Was it faith or greed that made them sink so deep? I think they simply didn’t have luck nor enough money to recover after the tragic lose of their boat and with the mortgage on their back.
At one point, Visconti clearly identifies the corrupt, exploitive wholesalers with the Mussolini’s regime. He also emphasis that we all must work together for the common good and only then everyone has a chance to succeed.
Yes, Visconti was Marxist, but I think he didn’t make this movie in order to judge or to make a political speech. Even if he did, you can dislike his political attitude and ideas but you simply can’t disregard the fact that this movie has a universal message and is telling the story that can take place anywhere and at any time in history, and that’s all that matters. And what a story!