Moments of Italian Cinema
The earth trembles (La terra trema)
A young fisherman from Aci Trezza, ‘Ntoni Velastro, works day in day out for fish wholesalers who exploit the labour market and rule with an iron fist. Frustrated by their unfair ways, ‘Ntoni rebels along with other fishermen, and as a result they are arrested for breach of the peace. Yet it is the wholesalers themselves, forced by lack of workers with whom to replace the rebellious fishermen, who arrange their immediate release. Nonetheless ‘Ntoni, who is unwilling to stand down, convinces his family to mortgage their house and set up business on their own. Aided by propitious anchovy fishing, the Velastros' future seems bright, until one day they lose their boat in a storm. From then on, their destiny is sealed by an unstoppable chain of misfortunes, compounded by the repossession of their house for failure to pay the mortgage. Left to their own devices, the family takes a downward spiral: ‘Ntoni, whose girlfriend leaves him, looks for solace in drink; the grandfather dies; the brother begins trafficking in contraband; as for the two sisters, the eldest's marriage breaks up and the youngest is compromised by the unwanted attentions of a police sergeant. Resigned and unable to find any other way out, the young fisherman is forced to return to the wholesalers, accepting to work under their despicable conditions. Nonetheless, he is aware that his gesture of rebellion is destined to leave its mark in both his own conscience and that of his fellow workers.