La Terra Trema

La Terra Trema, award-winner at the Venice Film Festival, was Luchino Visconti's second film. It is a monumental work, filled with elements of romantic lyricism and harsh realism. Visconti used non-professional actors - fishermen and workers from the Sicilian village of Acitrezza - to tell his story of men trying to free themselves from the poverty enforced upon them by exploitative businessmen. The fishermen receive extremely poor pay for their catch from the wholesalers who own their boats. The Valastro family, led by the impassioned young N'toni, attempt to escape this oppression. In a climactic scene, N'toni leads the workers in seizing the wholesalers' scales, symbols of the capitalists' injustice, and hurling them into the sea. The importance of La Terra Trema as a work of film art goes far beyond the political aspect. Determined to make an honest and realistic study of the toil-and-poverty-ruled lives of its characters, Visconti not only filmed in the real locations, but in all the roles he used actual inhabitants of the area, who eloquently portrayed their own lives for the camera. They also spoke, more or less spontaneously, in their own Sicilian dialect, Visconti often simply explaining to them the mood or content of a scene rather than having them memorize set lines.

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