La Terra Trema, The Earth Trembles 1948

by Marianne Wi

Director :  Luchino Visconti  1906 – 1976

Visconti was born on the 2nd November 1906 in Milan and named Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo, he died in Rome on the 17th March 1976. I absolutely adored this man, I remember La Terra Trema, The Earth Trembles being shown in Denmark in March 1965, I cried throughout and was hopelessly in love with the youngest son. I am saddened by the lack of credit Visconti has been given in AciTrezza, why I hear you ask do they not feel the love for Visconti? Well, he was rich, he was from Italian nobility, he was a homosexual and most importantly he was not Sicilian and therefore could not possibly understand how the poor struggling habitants of an Sicilian village would feel, very much opposite worlds, they have of course been proven wrong, the film is a classic. I encounter few people here who have actually seen the film although most will have a member of their family performing  in it. My visitors are goaded into seeing this film so as to better understand my love for this place. There is a small museum dedicated to the film where articles from that period are on display it is  called “Casa del Nespolo” but no statue of the man. Verga who wrote the original book Malavoglia, The House of the Medlar Tree has fared a little better, he has a statue just outside the Church, you see his Head amongst parked cars. Visconti employed all local inhabitants to star in the film, he eventually had to go back to Italy to raise the final cash to complete the project, selling a family home and jewellery.

 

Quotes from the film:

In Sicily, Italian is not the language of the poor

Fish are created to be netted (women being fish)

We were born here, we will die here

As sure as water wears away a stone

When you are hungry you cannot argue

Strengths of youth wisdom of age

The sea is bitter and the sailor dies at sea

It is just a matter of time, as the worm said to the stone, I’ll bore a hole through you yet

One by one, the tree’s branches wither and fall.

Cast :  The Mother, Maria Micale – The Father, Sebastiano Valastro – Antonio Micale, Vanni – Nelluccia Giammona, Mara – Agnese Giammona, Lucia – Giuseppe Arcidiamo, Cola – Salvatore Vicari, Alfio – Alfio Ficher, Michele – Ignazio Maccarone, Maccarone – Giovanni Mariorana, Un Bambino – Antonio Arcidiacono, Ntoni – Mario Piso, Voice of the Narrator – Lorenzo Valastro, Lorenzo – Antonio Valastro, Un Grossista – Alfio Valastro, Bandiera – Nicola Castorino, Nicola – Rosa Catalano, Rosa – Rosa Costanzo, Nedda – Carmela Fichera, La Baronessa.

Synopsis: It is the old story of the rich exploitation of the poor as in this case the wholesellers takes advantage of the poor fishermen of Aci Trezza, a small Sicilian Village back in the 1940s. We follow the Valastro families fight for a better life led by Ntoni played with great natural skill by Antonio Arcidiacono, who see the future as an independent boat owner as the only option available to improve their lifestyle. The Valastro family mortgage their house and become the first family who proudly ownes their boat. Mara’s romance with Nicola is off as she has no money, is off as she had too much money , is  off again as she had no money very touching and moving throughout, a great shame that Nelluccia Giammona was not encouraged by her father to follow-up her acting career in Rome, when invited to by Visconti, she would have been a great charater actress, an awesome star. The Valastros family were riding high, the Alici were fat and ready for salting, until a storm wrecked La Provvidenza (Providence) their boat and all was lost. The village takes its revenge, as small insular villagers always do, the Valastros lose their home, the grandfather dies, Lucia’s morals are compromised by a necklace given to her by a whistling Police commissioner, Ntoni hits the bottle, Cola leaves the village lured by work on the main land and some Lucky Strike Cigarettes, their pride and most of all their will to succeed was destroyed by the storm and the loss of the boat. Mara remains the only character who never falters, she remains strong throughout the film. As the quote said “When you are hungry you cannot argue” that is so true and Ntoni with his 2 younger brothers have to return cap in hand to the wholesalers and beg for their jobs back, I cried buckets when I first saw this scene absolute buckets. The film did not fare well in Italy however outside its borders it became classified as a work of art and Visconti went on to become one of Italys most famous Directors of  the  “Neorealism” period receiving many awards.

On YouTube you will be able to see the entire film if you follow the above from 01 to 08, you have no excuse not to see this masterpiece, this great piece of Italian Neorealism.

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