Terra Madre (Mother Earth)
This film by Alessandro Blasetti opened in New York in 1931, and gained this notice in the New York Times:
“The Italian talking cinema is represented splendidly with Terra Madre,.... Technically excellent, both in its sound reproduction and its facile use of the camera,....
“Intimately woven into the fabric of peasant life and customs, the story traces the events of a day and a night on the feudal estates of a young duke returning to his lands after years of absentee ownership. Fresh from the feverish and reckless life of the cities, he has lost sympathy with his people, peasants who are rooted in the tradition of benevolent despotism exercised by generations of padrones. They welcome their popular ruler back with wine, games, dancing, peasant music, the happy abandon of the fiesta.
“When Duke Marco announces that he has sold the estates, the laughter turns to fear and sorrow. The new owner is a harsh master; the simple farmers and shepherds feel they have been betrayed. A devastating fire sweeps the estates and brings Marco back to the lands of his fathers, to his own people.
“It is a story told with fidelity to its theme, and great sympathy, and the players are uniformly good.”