Giovanni Verga’s Zola-esque 1880s novel describing the storm-tossed fortunes of three generations of a Sicilian fishing family has served as inspiration for a number of Italian tragedies/tributes, notably Visconti’s neo-realist ‘La Terra Trema’. Sicilian film director, documentarist and academic historian Pasquale Scimeca more often quotes Pasolini as an influence, which can be seen in his celebratory held portraiture of wizened grandfather Malavoglia (Giuseppe Firullo) or the children on a Moroccan immigrant ship. Yet on the evidence of the darkening, atavistic atmospherics in which he cloaks this sometimes strident, often meandering but heartfelt update the director feels much fidelity to the source novel’s affectionate but doleful determinism. Scimeca’s addition of an optimistic epilogue connected to the musical aspirations of the reluctantly dutiful ‘Ntoni (an impressively laconic Antonio Curcia), typifies his film’s uneasy overlay of modernity on the traditional.
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