Pontecorvo's debut inhabits a middle ground between political consciousness and star-driven melodrama, making it an interesting marker post for Italian cinema between the austerity of classic Neo-Realism and the international art house successes of the '60s. Although the film's ideologically on the side of the fishermen who form themselves into a collective to stop the wholesalers paying them less than their due, its heart is with loner Montand, driven by the same low prices to using dynamite to blow the fish out of the water. Ultimately, it's about personal tragedies shaped by economic inequalities, but, like its Neo-Realist forebears, isn't above using cute kids to up the emotional ante. Montand's a rock of integrity throughout, though you can understand Pontecorvo's surprise when he confessed during the shoot on the Dalmatian coast that he couldn't actually swim. (From the novel Squarciò by Franco Solinas.
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