La terra trema (1948) Script



"The events in this film take place in Italy...

Sicily, to be more precise... in the town of Acitrezza, not far from Catania, on the Ionian Sea.

It's the same age-old story of man's exploitation of man.

These are the houses, streets, boats and people of Acitrezza.

All the actors were chosen from among the townspeople: fishermen, farm laborers, bricklayers, and fish merchants.

They speak in their dialect to express their suffering and hope... for in Sicily, Italian is not the language spoken by the poor."

It's been four days.

The boats are full!

The sea's been generous this time!

Drop the sail!

Drop the sail!

As always, the first to begin their day in Trezza... are the fish merchants... who, even before sunrise... are on the shore awaiting the return of the fishing boats.

Because, just like every night... the boats go out to sea... and return at dawn with their small catch.

When there's fish to be caught, one can make a living in Trezza.

From grandfather to father to son... that's how it's always been.

What are you gonna do?

Look at all this mackerel!

It's been a good catch.

A house like so many others... built of old stones... with walls as old as the fishermen's trade.

At this early hour... the house awakens.

It's the house of the Valastros.

Lucia, hurry. Get the bread!

As soon as I'm finished.


Lia, come sprinkle the floor.

That way.

Now this way.

While they work, the women think of their men... returning from the sea... because the family has always had a boat at sea... since the days of the first Valastro.

They think of Grandfather and their brothers... and of their father too... who on one such morning never returned from sea.

What are you looking at?

Our brothers. I always think of them out there... just like I thought of Father... the day he didn't return.

They'll be back soon.

Lucia, fix your hair. I'll help you put your scarf on.

Remember the picture we took once in Catania?

Seems like it was just yesterday. look at 'Ntoni in his sailor's uniform.

There's Cola, and Vanni wearing his first long pants.

Alfio and Grandfather.

They're all at sea now.

The bitter sea!

Cola, where's Grandfather?

Back at the house. What are you two doing?

Be careful!

Finish unloading. I'll run home.

Lowering the sails, pulling the boats ashore... rolling up the nets, pulling in the oars, unloading the fish.

It's been four backbreaking days at sea.

The tired fishermen want to sell their catch quickly... for whatever pittance they'll get from the wholesalers and boat owners... and rush home to their families.

Careful, the nets got all ripped.

Easy with the barrels, now!

How many barrels of anchovies?

"The bitter sea" in Lucia's words... and bitter as well is work... whose profits go to the fish merchants.

There are the day laborers to pay... and the daily cost of mending nets and repairing damage to the boats.

The fishermen bear all these expenses... while the wholesalers enrich themselves without effort... buying for nothing the fish that took such sweat to bring in.

Macaroni, bring the big needle from the basket in the boat.

Macaroni, bring it all. Everything's torn and needs mending.

Bring some water too.

How many things can I bring? I've only got two hands!

See? That's the result of too much familiarity!

Did you hear his attitude?

I told you not to give the kid too much rope!

Everything's ripped today. This will take a month!

No. A week, maybe.

What a terrible night. Our nets are torn too.

And you think the bosses care?

We're like donkeys, only good for hard work!

They hardly even look at our catch.

We should sell the fish in Catania ourselves... instead of fattening them!

Did you hear them arguing while we unloaded this morning?

They were arguing over us.

Don't fool yourself. They weren't arguing over us... but against us!

They're always in league against us!

We're the ones who can't seem to agree!

It's each man for himself, selling his soul for a penny!

Things shouldn't be like that.

Forty, fifty... I'll give you fifty-five!

Four hundred.

This is the worst mackerel I've seen in years!

I'll be lucky if I can sell it. The canneries in Catania are complaining.

Hey, careful with the scales! They're off balance. You're robbing me!

Watch your mouth, by Judas, if you care to do business with me!

That's the most I can give you. City ladies don't like octopus!

Fifty for everything. Take it or leave it!

Tangerines, sweet as sugar!

How much? Twenty lire a kilo.

Too much. What's your best price?

Twenty lire. Too much!


No, that's too much.

Hello, 'Ntoni. Hello, Cola.

Lucia, what are you buying? Oh, nothing.

We didn't buy anything.

Here. Give me the change. Sure, she never buys anything!

Lucia, come help me.

I'll be right there, Mara. I bought some tangerines.

Are the men back? Yes, Mother.

Bless me, Mama Blessings always.

No, she's in bed. Bless me, Mama.

Don't, Alfio. Wait for Mama.

I couldn't find the bailer.

Why tell me? Look again. We probably lost it.

After twelve hours of back-breaking work... they return with not even enough to keep them from starving.

Yet when they pulled in their nets... they were full.

The thought of never earning enough to feed so many mouths... causes them endless anguish... and poisons even their few hours of rest.

Grandpa, what did we earn today? 1 5,500 lire?

We had 22 pounds of large mackerel... and got 7,7 50 lire.

Always the same old story.

We work all night, and they benefit.

It's always been like this, as long as I can remember.

It can't go on like this.

Lucia, bring me some water to wash up.

I say it can't go on! I've told you over and over!

Cola, what's up with 'Ntoni?

Ever since he did military service on the mainland... he can't stand injustice.

He doesn't see things the way we do anymore.

He thinks differently.

Isn't that right, 'Ntoni?

For 7 0 years I've thought the same way and things have gone all right.

'Ntoni should listen to his elders.

Like the old saying says...

"the strength of youth and the wisdom of age."

Don't get cross, Grandfather.

Here's the water, 'Ntoni.

Come and wash up, Vanni.

Come on, get up.

'Ntoni, you shouldn't upset Grandpa.

Poor Grandpa... he can only think the old way.

My faithless love You never became a holy nun Thinking of that girl in the Via Ferretta?

A fish is born for him who catches it!

Grandpa, I'm going out. What about your share?

Give it to my mother.

We've lost the bailer. You lose everything.

'Ntoni's going out for more fish.

Didn't we catch enough?

Come here, let's divide this up.

There are 7,7 50 lire.

Divided by 1 5, that's 500 lire each.

What about me? Here's 250 for you.

I'll take mine and 'Ntoni's. And I'll take mine.

If there's any relief, a moment's happiness... it's the thought of one's girl... and for her, one can even do without sleep.

Because a man is made to be caught by a girl... just as the fish of the sea are made for those who catch them.


Wish I were a rabbit to get attention like that!

Rabbits deserve it... because they aren't as mischievous as men!

Not me, Nedda.

You know I love you very much.

Yes, I know.

So you've told me many times.

But don't worry.

When the time comes, I'll find my own husband.

You're really a very special girl... and I know your family wants you to marry a rich man.

Rich or poor, I'm the one he has to please!

But remember one thing:

A rich man may be poor tomorrow.

Whereas a poor man with something up here... may be rich tomorrow!

Then let's talk about it tomorrow.

Tomorrow is always full of promise... and hope springs eternal.

But in Acitrezza... tomorrow is usually not much different from yesterday... or from days to come.

Keeping busy, eh?

Naturally, with all the pretty girls around here!

Even the sergeant of the Carabinieri, the village's top authority... whiles the time away watching the girls pass by.

Good day, Sergeant. Good day, Donna Giovanna.

Of course, Don Salvatore's life is different from the others'.

He's an employee of the state... and in Acitrezza he finds lots of time on his hands.

A sip of wine, a loaf of bread and a salted herring... which their work earned them yesterday... will sustain their return to sea tonight... to earn tomorrow's wine, bread and herring.

You, Pasquale. We'll get it now.

Even if the heart is heavy... they must return to sea.

Theirs is a slavery without escape.

Ready? Let's go.

Bless me, Mother.

Bye, Lucia. Bye, 'Ntoni.

We haven't spoken to each other yet But we've eyed each other in the crowd It was awful, knowing That I will never hold her tight

Her father Salvatore thought I wasn't good enough for her

She fell sick, the doctor came First the mother, then the daughter Ah, my girl, she was so lovely When she laughed I burned with love Thoughts of her filled my mind Even after I left home To go in search of fortune I always knew she wanted me But how could I win her hand I knew that she desired me She would tell me just be patient When you give your heart away

That's when suffering begins All in the name of love Hello, Nicola.

Good evening, Mara.

Jano's in high spirits, isn't he?

He's always singing.

He's just a kid...

so he's happy.

What about you?

Aren't you happy, Nicola?

For me to be happy, Mara...

would take a lot of things.

Like what? I can't tell you.

Tomorrow I go to Catania.

Why are you going?

To get cement.

He's going to Catania to find a wife.

Is that so, Nicola?

When I'm ready, I won't need to go to Catania to get married.

look how the basil has grown.

I just planted it last week.

You have good hands, Mara.

Nicola, you still gabbing? Where are the tiles?

It's getting late. I want to go home.

I'm coming, Jano.

So, then. Good-bye, Nicola.

At dusk, the boats put out to sea, this time with lamps.

They round Capo dei Mulini, where schools of fish are plentiful.

Slow down! Watch where you're going!

We'll catch God's bounty tonight!

Turn on the lamp!

Back and forth the lighted boats go over the black sea... searching for fish, who are attracted by the lights.

From boat to boat the voices ring out... with calls, warnings and signals.

The nets are dropped and then hauled back up... swarming with silvery fish.

Through the long night the strenuous work goes on.

Up and down go the nets... up and down... until dawn breaks over the hills.

It takes a lot of fish... for the pittance the wholesalers will give them.

Maybe the old men allow themselves to be exploited.

If the younger men did the selling on the dock... maybe things would be different.

'Ntoni What is it? Eh?

Did you hear? They called.

I know why he's surly tonight.

He'd rather fish for girls!

What is it, eh?

All I know... is he doesn't like work.

That's it: 'Ntoni himself should try it... with his younger brothers and friends.

Stand up to the wholesalers, set the prices.

See if they can put an end to their exploitation.

The idea seethes in 'Ntoni's head.

Save your energy.

The sea's a miser tonight and the night's black... and there's far too many of us for what little fish there are.

The sea of Trezza would have to be as big as all Catania.

Now that we need it, the sea's holding back.

This is the sea God gave us. It'll have to do.

Yes, Grandpa, God gave us this bit of sea and these rocks... and these boats that can't go out very far.

But, Grandpa, God didn't invent those connivers... who take advantage of us fishermen.

Giovanni, hold this.

Grandpa means that when things don't go right... it's useless to blame others.

But, Grandpa, you have too much faith in people.

You think others are as honest as you are.

That's it! We don't care if they're honest with the others.

I can't stand such shameless greed!

They're getting rich off our backs!

That's how things are:

The wholesalers set the prices and that's all there is to it.

Only up to a point, Uncle Peppino!

Until you old fellows are the ones selling the fish... they will always take advantage of you.

Am I right? Don't say such things, Bandiera!

You're too good, that's what!

Be quiet.

You talk and talk, always blaming us old folks.

You go to the dock. Let's see what you can do!

Uncle Peppino, don't be offended.

The energy that young people have... makes them want to point out injustice, like St. Thomas did.

So, with Grandpa's permission, we'll go to the dock in the morning.

I've never seen anything like it:

Youngsters doing what their elders should do.

Go, then, but watch your back... because the wholesalers always come out on top.

To have that satisfaction for once!

Eh, Uncle Vanni? What do you say?

It's all right with me. And with us too!

For once, everybody agrees!

Count me in too!

And so at dawn the boats return to Trezza.

But this time it's the young men who will deal with the wholesalers.

Sails down, all the way!

Macaroni, check how much fish I have on the scales.

Is this your merchandise?

Six kilos. Five kilos.

Why five? All right, five kilos.

How much? It's five kilos.

400 lire, 41 0...

41 5.

The market was the same as always.

The wholesalers conspired to keep the prices down.

You couldn't get a lira more. The prices were fixed.

"You can learn to live with injustice" is a proverb of the poor.

Everything falls on the backs of the poor.

But this time the young men watch closely... determined not to be taken.

A thousand lire a kilo.

420 lire... 425...

425 lire...

Lorenzo, stop selling!

Fellows, listen!

My scales! My scales!

What are we waiting for? look what I do with these Judas scales!

Into the sea!

Following 'Ntoni's defiant gesture... other fishermen as well throw the merchants' scales into the sea.

A brawl breaks out between fishermen and wholesalers.

Don Salvatore! Sergeant! What is it?

Hurry to the dock! They're throwing the fish back into the sea!

Come, Sergeant, hurry. I'm going with you.

The sergeant and his deputy run to the dock.

As one would expect, 'Ntoni and his comrades... are arrested and taken to jail in Catania.

Since the arrest of 'Ntoni and the others...

Raimondo, Lorenzo and the rest have had to swallow their anger.

The villagers are worried about their fishermen... while the wholesalers are worried about their business.

Their earnings have been cut in half.

Only the good-for-nothings are left to work.

All the best young men have been arrested... along with 'Ntoni.

Since then, the whole town has gone communist!

You're right, Raimondo.

All this is not in our best interest.

We can't go on like this! We have to pardon 'Ntoni.

I agree. What do you think, Pandolla?

No, Raimondo.

That damned 'Ntoni must be taught a lesson!

Calm down, Nino. Even if it means no business for us.

Calm down, Nino. You're right, of course... but I'm the oldest here, and wiser than the rest of you.

What good is 'Ntoni to us in jail?

Once he's out of jail... he'll fish again and we'll be back in business, understand?

Is he serious?

That's enough! Raimondo's the oldest.

We must do as he says.


Take the co-op's van to Catania... and take this letter to the police commissioner.

It says that we withdraw our complaint... and that they should let them out.

Then bring 'Ntoni and the rest back with you.

I'll go right away.

Can I take Michele along? Sure, go ahead.

I don't agree with this, Raimondo! Calm down, Nino.

You may be right... but there's no other way out.

Raimondo is always right!

Then the king's son... handsome as the sun... rode for one year... one month... and one day... on a handsome white horse... until he arrived at an enchanted fountain... flowing with milk and honey.

Dismounting from his horse to drink... what did he find?

My thimble!

The fairies had taken it there!

When the king's son saw my thimble... he fell in love with me!

On and on he goes... until he finally arrives... in Trezza... to find me... and marry me.

He sweeps me up on his white horse... and carries me off... far, far away!

May I?

Miss Lucia, excuse me for taking the liberty... but I heard that 'Ntoni was just released from jail in Catania.

I wanted to be the first... to give you the good news.

Is he coming straight home?

Right away. Happy now?

I'm going to run and tell Mother!

Good-bye, Don Salvatore.

And thanks. Just doing my job, Miss Lucia.

'Ntoni and his comrades receive a hero's welcome... from the town folk upon their return from jail.

Let's go, Michele.

One fine day To my sweet love A rose I gave Though everyone welcomed 'Ntoni home with great joy... yet inside he was brooding.

He thought, "If the wholesalers withdrew their charges... it means they can't do without us fishermen.

Why, then, shouldn't the fishermen try to do without the wholesalers?"

These are the thoughts in 'Ntoni's mind... and he feels he has to make his family understand.

They have to find a way to be free and start working on their own.

I don't want any.

Eat, 'Ntoni. I don't want any.

'Ntoni, you have to eat. I don't want any.

What good is not eating?

It's not about eating or not eating.

It's something else. What is it, 'Ntoni?

They put us in jail because the law says we committed a crime.

But when it suits them, the law doesn't matter... and they let us out.

Don't you see what that means? I'll tell you.

It means they need us!

But why should anyone need us?

We're nothing but beasts of burden... like Jano's donkey.

You know who needs us?

The fish... so we can haul them out!

The wholesalers need us, that's who!

So why should we knuckle under?

Let's let them fend for themselves... and see how they manage without our help!

"Change old for new, you will rue."

Grandpa, your nice proverbs don't work anymore.

I'm not crazy. I've thought this thing out.

I mean no harm.

We weren't born just to lead a miserable life... with no hope of anything better... but to be masters of our own lives!

Your father always worked hard and never complained.

That's right, and he drowned at sea... still working, never complaining.

What thanks did he get after working so hard for others?

Who thinks of him anymore... or of all the rest who drowned at sea while working for others? Who?

'Ntoni is right.

He's thinking along the right lines.

If we worked for ourselves... it would be for our family, not theirs... for our mother and sisters.

Don't think Father didn't understand these things.

He would have agreed with 'Ntoni.

He didn't want his sons to be beasts of burden.

You see? It's clear!

We have to unite against these bloodsuckers!

Tell me what to do, 'Ntoni.

I want to free us from these thieving rogues.

We'll work for ourselves! Be on our own!

Our women will help us salt the fish... our fish!

Then we'll sell it in Catania!

We'd need to buy our own boat. Where would we get the money?

We have the house.

You want to sell our house?

Not sell... just mortgage it to get cash, buy a boat and be on our own.

Little by little, we'll pay off the mortgage with the money we'll earn.

I'm for it if everyone else is.

As long as we all agree... and Mother agrees too.

Where will they find the money to strike out on their own?

It's true, the house can be mortgaged... no need to sell it.

But Cola is right:

They all have to stick together.

Playing cards, eh? For a bottle of wine.

Bet you didn't get wine like this in prison, eh, Bandiera?

Why bother playing? He always wins.

Deal the cards. If only I had some good cards...

Bandiera, there's our "friend."

Hello, Lorenzo!

What a friend! If it weren't for him, we'd still be in jail.

Fellows, I have something to say... though our friend there may not like it.

I'm the friend of everyone and no one... just as long as nobody crosses me.

Is this a concert?

It's no use.

Some "friends" never change... while others get even worse.

Don't worry, Lorenzo.

We'll put them in their place, eh, Raimondo?

Said the worm to the stone...

"I'll bore a hole through you yet." look, they're coming out.

Where are they going? To the beach, to sober up.

They really are drunk.

Some gratitude for the men who got them out of jail!

That 'Ntoni! After all we did for him!

But why is Lorenzo complaining?

Didn't he hear Raimondo?

They're the bosses.

It's just a matter of time.

As the worm said to the stone...

"I'll bore a hole through you yet."

Meanwhile, 'Ntoni has convinced his family to mortgage the house for cash... and now explains to his friends... how they too can work on their own like the Valastros... to throw off their yoke.

Listen to me, fellows. This is what I've been thinking.

For years, maybe centuries... our eyes have been closed... and our fathers' and grandfathers' before us... so that we can no longer see clearly.

You know what happened a few days ago.

Why let yourselves be squeezed by Lorenzo and company?

They profit while risking nothing of their own.

We take all the risks!

We risk our boats and our gear... and our very lives!

At best we're guaranteeing a future of hopeless misery for ourselves!

I know you must think about it... just as I do... until you end up all confused... like fish churning in a basket, looking for a way out.

They you give up, just like the fish.

But it's got to stop!

Sure they'll threaten us, but who's afraid?

Only cowards!

We mustn't be afraid of them.

Other fishermen will follow us when we show them the way... and they'll thank us!

Lucia, bring me a pair of clean socks. Give me a second.

My tie. Look in the top drawer.

Are these mine? No, yours are on the table.

Hey, this one is mine. Help me, Mara.

Ready? The bus leaves in 1 5 minutes.

We're ready. I'll just fix Cola's tie.

My shawl, Mara. Here it is, Mother.

Put your jacket on.

Shut her up or I'll go crazy!

All this commotion is frightening her.

Quick or we'll miss the bus!

We have to be in Via Ospedaliera at 1 1:00.

Lucia, give me the baby.

'Ntoni, the bus is coming. Right away, Uncle.

We're coming. Let's go.

Come on, Grandpa.

'Ntoni, Grandpa's in a daze!

Let's go, Grandpa.

Go. I'll take care of it.

Let's go! Come here.

I'll get the door.

The Valastros are off to Catania to mortgage their house for cash.

It's their only property, their only hope for winning a better future.

The bus is here.

Hurry, hurry!


But no one else follows them... because everything is a threat when you live in poverty.

It never occurs to you that things could change... and the worst is always yet to come.

A month later, the mortgage is arranged... and 'Ntoni returns to Trezza, feeling like he owns the world.

With money in the bank, he plans out the future.

He can even think of taking a wife, now that they work on their own.

Bless me, Grandpa.

'Ntoni's back!

I'm back, Mama. I just came from the bank.

It was the craziest thing... but I got the money, and now we're all set!

Back already? Yes, everything is all set.

Now we can buy our own boat. Did you put the money in the bank?

Yes, here's the bankbook.

No more working for others. All the money we earn is ours!

Little by little, we'll pay off our debts, and one day I'll get married.

You want to get married, 'Ntoni? Yes, I do, Cola!

Don't you have your eye on some girl?

No, I don't. Well, I do!

Back from Catania?

Yes, I'm back from Catania!

Should we call you "boss" now?

With God's will and hard work, now we'll get ahead.

My faithless love I'll die without you

I'll die without you He who's happy sings!

I'm happy because from now on I'll work for myself.

'Ntoni, the world is a staircase: Some go up, others go down.

Are you spitting at me? Because you're being malicious!


This stubborn mule's got delusions of grandeur now.

Be careful. Neighbors are like roof tiles:

Water flows from one to another.

If things go well, I look after my friends.

Are you mocking me too, Uncle?

Hey, Maria, have you seen 'Ntoni?

He can't stop singing and laughing and spitting at people.

He's become conceited.

Let's show Raimondo and his cronies what we can do.

Let's go. Pull!

This is a memorable day for the Valastros.

Today they fish for themselves for the first time.

Stronger on this side.

Stronger on this side.

Let's get the sail up.


What did you catch?

Anchovies! A boatload!


A long way out!

How deep?


What about the other boats?

Another one has a boatload too!

What depth were you at?

About forty meters.

During the night, far out at sea... they'd made an unprecedented catch of anchovies.

Hey, kid!

Hold on to this. Take it!

Providence had smiled on 'Ntoni in the dark.

Where do we put these?

Here, take these poles.

Take them.

Don't do that! We haven't caught anchovies in a year!

We've got to salt them.

Now that they're bosses, here comes their first expense: salt for the anchovies.

But it promises abundance for tomorrow.

Thirty kilos.

27 0 and 30... makes exactly 300 kilos.

At 1 0 lire...

that makes 3,000 lire, right?

Right, Uncle Toto.

One... two and three.

Fifty kilos of salt for bringing.

Put it in the cart. Will do.

Let's go, Lia.

Children, will you help me push the cart? I can't manage on my own.

Good luck! Have a good salting!

Although Sicily produces salt... the state monopoly sells it at exorbitant prices.

Still, the Valastros need it to salt the anchovies... hoping to sell them in winter at a handsome price in Catania.

You bought the salt? Good luck!

Thank you.

Thank God you came along, Nicola. I couldn't manage anymore!

It's so hot. Rest for a minute.

I can't. They're waiting for the salt.

This is the fifth load I've hauled this morning!

When do you begin salting? One of these evenings.

'Ntoni caught so many anchovies that we have to start salting soon.

You'd better.

Otherwise they'll go bad.

If we're lucky... we'll sell the whole batch and pay off the bank.

That debt sticks in our throat like a bone.

Will you help me push the cart? Of course, Mara.

I won't need you now.

Come here and take this money.

Buy yourselves something.

We're all busy at home now.

There's cloth to weave and nets to make.

Now that you're a boat-owner's daughter and rich... you'll soon get married.

God will decide that.

In the meantime, I don't even think about it.

How wonderful it must be to be rich.

To marry whoever you like, live wherever you like.

Well, here we are. You'd better be going.

The other masons must be waiting for you.

Thanks, Nicola.

My brothers are up by now.

They'll help me with the sacks.

So long, Mara, and good luck... with all my heart.

While many are attracted by riches... others are frightened off.

It was with a heavy heart that Nicola wished Mara well... for he's well aware how these things work.

He's too poor for a Valastro girl now... and the poor know their place.

Vanni, Alfio, come help me! The salt's here!

Getting ready for a good salting, eh?

The fifth cartful!

Mara, here, let me take it. Yes, give me a hand.

Have you decided yet, Nedda?

I don't know yet.


What's keeping you? I'm coming, Mother!

Let's go.

Well, Nedda? Is it yes or no?

We'll go to Cannizzaro on Sunday... and take a nice stroll.

I don't know yet.

Come on, Nedda.

We'll have a pleasant day.

I don't know yet.

If Nedda's playing hard to get... it's nothing but flirting.

Because in Trezza, even matters of the heart... are linked to one's work and financial success.

Here's another one, Grandpa. That makes 25.

This means money for the winter. A lot!

They'll bring good luck.

Uncle Nunzio is treating us to a concert.

Let's go, fellows.

There are more anchovies where those came from.

Try and guess this one:

It's long, and in winter you put it away.

A broom handle!

Let's go, boys!

Greetings, Sergeant.

I never saw so much salted fish!

Isn't that the truth!

There are more anchovies than Carabinieri!

And the anchovies are luckier than us too... being handled by pretty girls.

Watch those compliments, Sergeant... or you'll give these women ideas!

Try this one:

"I cut off the head, I cut off the tail... and you've got a princess instead."

I'll tell you what it is! A prickly pear!

Good night, all. Good fishing!

Nice music, eh?

It's by Vincenzo Bellini.

"The Swan of Catania." Good night, Uncle Nunzio.

'Ntoni and his sweetheart hurry toward the beach... to spend a few delicious moments away from curious eyes.

Come on, Nedda.

Nedda, wait!



Careful or you'll fall in the sea!

Nedda, wait!

Nedda, wait!

What does your heart tell you, 'Ntoni?

Now you've got everything you ever wanted.

Everything you ever dreamed of is within reach.

Nasty day today. Too much wind!

It's the devil's wind!

Even if the sea is menacing... the boat must risk it.

With so many expenses... the day laborers to pay and so many mouths to feed at home...

'Ntoni can't afford to lose a day.

Hold the rigging steady, boy! Right away, Grandpa.

If there's a wind in the gulf, turn back. You hear me, 'Ntoni?

The gulf wind is like a gale. You can wait for better weather.

But he who has a family can't sleep whenever he wishes... and so 'Ntoni and his brothers and grandfather... entrust themselves to luck.

When the bell sounds the alarm in Trezza... hearts sink among those who have men at sea.

The tolling of the bell is a storm warning.

Each seeks help from her neighbor... and they beg for God's mercy for the wretches who are in danger.


Open up. It's me, Mara!

What is it, Mara? Help me, please!

Please, calm down.

Here, sit down.

Angelina, Mara's here.

I waited on the jetty all night.

Someone has to go find them.

They're in terrible danger!

Mother of God! I warned them not to go out!

How am I supposed to find them? Can't you see how bad this storm is?

Bandiera, you have to go!

I can't tell my mother no one's going to look for them.

In her anguish she's become... like a corpse, staring into space.

Courage, Mara.

We'll see what we can do.

Good weather or bad, neither one lasts forever.

Could this calm sea be the same one that swept 'Ntoni's boat so far out?

And so one day, rounding Capo dei Mulini... the Valastros' boat returns... which by now everyone had almost forgotten.

Bandiera found them drifting somewhere... and is now towing them back in.


Bandiera's boat is back, with 'Ntoni's in tow!

Tell me, who is it?

So this is how they return:

'Ntoni, Cola, Grandfather and Vanni.

They lost everything: the nets, the mast, the oars, the sail.

The boat, its side split open, barely stays afloat.

It wasn't enough that their fellow man was their enemy.

Nature was there too... and in a single night wiped them out utterly.

The wholesalers will now have their revenge.

'Ntoni will pay dearly for his rebellion.

You brought this disaster on yourself!

See what you've done by being so stubborn?

You'll never be a wholesaler, wretch!

Now you'll pay for your mistake!

One should listen to his elders.

Courage, 'Ntoni.

What a miserable trade a fisherman has!

It's not the end of the world, 'Ntoni.

Let's go home. Mother's waiting.

'Ntoni's back. look!

My son! My son!

My son!

We're back, Mama. Take heart.

Will you be quiet?

Leave us in peace!

Leave us in peace.

I'm a miserable wretch with rotten luck... doomed to struggle against fate to feed my family!

Don't take it so hard.

There must be an end to our bad luck!

Quiet. Grandpa will hear you.

Bring me some water to shave.

Right away, 'Ntoni.

Bring the bottle.


Now we have to think about paying our debts.

Mother has prepared lunch. Let's go in and eat, Grandpa.

Grandfather stares before him with lifeless eyes.

"Now we have to think about paying our debts, "he said.

Meanwhile, 'Ntoni and his brothers, the young men of the family... haven't yet fully grasped... the extent of their misfortune.

But 'Ntoni still has Nedda's love.

Nedda will stand by him.

Open up, Nedda. It's 'Ntoni!

Nedda, open up!

Can you hear me, Nedda?

Open up, Nedda. It's 'Ntoni!

Nedda! Isn't anybody home?

How's it going, 'Ntoni?

'Ntoni wanders sadly to the beach.

His boat is at the caulker's, but they have no money for repairs... and so he must look for work.

Any work for us? We've got a full crew.

If it was you alone...


That's all right, Uncle Angelo.

Now that they've lost everything...

'Ntoni must find a job somewhere... even if it's hard to work on someone else's boat... when he once had his own.

But even this is denied him.

No one has any work for him.

Now not even a dog welcomes him in Trezza.

Greetings, Signor Viola. 'Ntoni, how are you?

Got any work for me?

Are you a mechanic?

What mechanic? I'm a fisherman!

Then I'm sorry. I can't help you.

I suppose you can't. Good-bye, Signor Viola.

The wholesalers' boycott is on. No one will hire 'Ntoni and his folk.

Lucia, there's Don Salvatore. Don't let him see us!

Greetings, Miss Lucia.

Mind if I chat a minute?

If I were alone I'd mind... but since Mara's here, I guess it's all right.

Mara's here too?

Hello, Mara. Sorry, I didn't see you.

Greetings, Don Salvatore.

You know, this village is full of gossips.

If they happen to see you at our window...

I don't say it on my account.

I'm thinking of Lucia.

She's so young.

A girl has to be happy, Miss Lucia.

The gossips are jealous of you... and your good looks.

If you were ugly, no one would say a word.

Don't you ever think of getting married?

Well, until now...

I haven't.

Well, you should. But don't get married in Trezza.

You're a city girl. You don't fit in here.

You should wear fine clothes... not those old rags.

See what I've brought you.

A pretty silk scarf, as if made just for you!

Please, I can't accept it, even if you kill me!

At least have a look at it.

Don't be offended, Don Salvatore.

We're poor now. Such fine things aren't for us.

I'm not upset... but I don't deserve this.

It's too beautiful for me!

Lots of girls not even as pretty as you have one.

Because they're rich... we're not.

I didn't mean that.

Even if you don't want it, I won't take offense.

I like you anyway. All of you.

Don Salvatore will always be your friend.

Remember that.

No matter what happens.

Good-bye, Miss Lucia, Miss Mara.

Good-bye, Don Salvatore.

Thank you.

Don Salvatore really is a friend.

That was a nice scarf.

I like silk scarfs... and earrings... and necklaces.

Their last riches, the 30 barrels, now had to be sold.

But to whom, if not the wholesalers?

These are the anchovies. We have 30 barrels.

All the same quality?

Yes, they were all salted at the same time.

I'd like to see for myself.

Right. Then we'll agree on a price.

Is this your stuff, 'Ntoni?

Don't you see it's no good?

Tiny, shriveled up, clotted with too much salt... and rust, even.

They're too dry too.

Lorenzo, look at this.

Only fit for cats!

Are you joking? The stuff's all good!

You want it for nothing, don't you?

Forget it. I'm not being taken!

Hello, everyone!

I brought the truck. I'm ready when you are.

You can take it back. No use waiting.

Doesn't look like there's gonna be a deal.

We know our business, and we know what's good and what isn't.

We worked hard for these 30 barrels.

You think we found them on the street?

Everybody leans on a low wall... so put your weight somewhere else. You're not pressing us down!

That stuff's no good to us.

We know our business too.

Let's go.

Let them go, Cola. They only came to suck our blood.

You Judas swine! We know your business.

It's taking advantage of people.

Now you're showing your true face... the face of greed!

Are you saying we're thieves?

Over and over we offered to buy your barrels.

You wouldn't sell.

You were saving it up for winter.

So if you want to sell now, sell... and if you don't, throw them back in the sea!

We'll give you 80 lire.

Parasites! Sharks! Crooks! Get out!

I'd rather throw it back in the ocean!

Suit yourselves.

'Ntoni, Cola, I'm sorry to see you treated that way.

Every wind is bad for a sinking ship.

But when the ache of hunger is in your throat... you'll settle for anything.

You give in, even if you're plundered in the process.

"I'll bore a hole through you yet," said the worm to the stone.

Rough weather, boys. Feels like the sirocco.

We can't go out to sea.

It could last a week, eh?

Anything's possible... even that.

We worked so hard. Now we can afford to rest up a while.

Without work you can't afford to eat.

You can't even afford to smoke.


Thanks. One for my friend too? Go right ahead.

These are good cigarettes.

American. Lucky Strikes.

We never get these around here. You like them?

Then listen to me.

Hey, let me have a puff. Just a minute.

Now it's your turn.


Hello, Santo.

Give me a light.

This is Cola, the one I was telling you about.

'Ntoni Valastro's brother.

He's out of work.

Is that right? You're out of work?

Yes, that's right.

What's it to you?

I'm interested because...

I can help you.

Have a cigarette.

Santo, who's that?

I don't know.

An American, I think, with lots of cigarettes.

You know the guy? Let's see what he's got to offer.

Who indeed was this stranger, and what did he want here?

What is he offering young men like Cola... men at the end of their rope... doomed to die of hunger... shackled like dogs on a chain?

Cola looks at the pack of cigarettes. What has he got to lose?

What could be worse than this misery?

As a smuggler, at least he could help his family.

Cola, what are you doing in my sea chest?

Did you find work? You took my knapsack.

What work?

Work, my eye!

Doing what?

Nothing was happening today, of course.

The excuse today was bad weather.

Bad weather or good, there's always some excuse.

I can't stand being reduced to nothing but misery.

You realize we've been looking for work for a month?

We haven't earned one cent.

What's left for us? Stealing?

Every door is shut in our faces.

Meanwhile, we all starve: the family, you, me.

What good did selling our anchovies do us?

We sweated blood for those barrels!

They were to be the start of our fortune.

But instead they only kept us... from sinking for a short while.

Now the devil's got us where he wants us... and there's no hope.

We should have thrown them back into the sea... before giving them to those swine.

I get sick thinking of how crooked they are!

It's getting dark.

You know what?

I'm fed up with living here.

I can't believe... that people in other parts of the world are as mean as in Trezza.

I'm tired of living here.

You shouldn't talk like that.

We were born in Trezza...

and we must die in Trezza.

Even if it means we suffer.

Maybe you're right, 'Ntoni.

You know the world.

Taranto, Bari.

You've even been in Spezia.

It's a big world outside this village.

If there's a way of making our fortune...

I want to help you... and our family.

The sea is the same all over the world.

Outside our harbor are strong currents and disaster.

You've seen that.

Keep this in mind, Cola:

Our struggle is here!

"Keep this in mind, Cola:

Our struggle is here!"

This is what 'Ntoni tells his brother.

If you're born in Trezza, you stay in Trezza.

It stopped raining.

I do want to help you, 'Ntoni.

But one thought torments Cola.

He yearns to set out to make his fortune... in some enchanted city like on the picture postcards... where a man could get rich and help his family.

Hi, Cola. Hi.

Cola, I'm going to bed.

How can you go to bed all wet like that?

Vanni! What?

Bring me a towel. Wait, I'm doing something.

How did you get so soaked?

Where were you? At the castle.

It's really cold. Were you playing there?

You're so wet!

You're hungry, aren't you?

Here's the towel.

I got work in Cannizzaro today, picking oranges.

I earned 3 50 lire.

I was lucky, eh?

No job on the boats, eh?

That's right.

They've ganged up on us. No work at all.

Don Gentili took me on because he was short of people.

Put the money away.

3 50 and 200 from yesterday, plus the 400 we saved...

Give it to me. I'll put it in the drawer.

Blessings, Grandpa.

Why don't we put the money in the drawer? That way you can't lose it.

It's risky keeping money on you.

It's terrible to lose money you've worked so hard for.



'Ntoni Valastro!

Isn't anyone home here?

Yes, they're home. Knock harder.

They're hiding inside.

Good day.

Are you the heirs of Sebastiano Valastro?

We're here to foreclose on your mortgage and seize the house.

We're from the Fidani Bank in Catania, the bank that gave you the loan.

Engineer, show them the foreclosure order.

Here it is, signed by the judge. It authorizes us to take possession.

Start checking the building.

Check the strength of the load-bearing walls... and take a precise measurement of the square footage.

'Ntoni! 'Ntoni!

What is it?

Concetta says the bankers from Catania have brought the bailiff.

Where? At your house.

This is a load-bearing wall.

This one is too, but it's in bad condition.

No brick support, only stone.

This wall is weak.

It won't last long.

The furniture's worthless.

The paint is peeling, the ceiling needs repair.

The whole place needs replastering.

Shall we examine the other rooms?

Tomorrow morning at 4:00 at the place I told you.

All right. We'll be there.

Right, Nino? Let's go.

I'm taking a cigarette. Coming, Cola?

In a minute.

See you tomorrow.

Did you get that? Let me explain.

What about some billiards? Right away.

This is Guarnaccia lane... and this is the main road.

This is Bastianello lane... and this is your house.

This is the path you take to get to the boat.

Good-bye, Mother.

Good-bye, Grandpa.

Good-bye, 'Ntoni. Good-bye to you all.

I'm leaving.

Please forgive me for what I'm going to do.

I'll be back soon... and we'll be a happy family once again.

Got half a cigarette?

Boys, is everybody here?

Let's go!

Cola's gone.

They've come to take him.

For those down on their luck, when trouble starts... there's no stopping it.

They're taking him away, poor old man, to Santa Marta.

Grandfather became ill... and they're taking him to Catania... to the Santa Marta Hospital.

They're taking him away.


Weak, vain Lucia has been seduced by Don Salvatore.

Stealthily, she hurries back home hiding a necklace, her lover's gift.

Nights find 'Ntoni in the taverns... carousing with the riffraff of the town.

It's a way for him to forget his misfortune and chase away sadness.

At least he needn't feel ashamed in their company.

There are no recriminations, no talk of work.

Don Salvatore, after his tryst with Lucia, strolls in the night... whistling softly, proud of his conquest.


If you're drunk, it's best to steer clear of the sergeant... though it's unusual for him to be out at this hour.

He must have gotten lucky with a girl.

Go on playing. He's far away by now!

Lucia hopes to sneak in the house unnoticed... but Mara, who is up worrying and waiting for 'Ntoni, sees her.

Where have you been? 'Ntoni will hear you.

'Ntoni's not here. He's not back yet.

He goes out every night... while I sit and wait for him.

Were you waiting for me too?

If our mother knew, she'd die of heartbreak.

With all the sorrows she's had!

What did I do?

I haven't done anything wrong.

So go ahead and tell her!

I do what I please, and no one can say a word.

Who cares anyway? locked up here like some kind of treasure!

Some treasure... nobody'll marry us!

Don't say that, Lucia.

We may be poor now, but we must still guard our honor.

And we have to work to help 'Ntoni.

'Ntoni, sure! He brought us to this!

He's given our house away! And what's he doing about it?

Carousing at night with his drunken bums!

Cola's run away.

Grandpa's in the hospital.

You want to know something? better keep an eye on 'Ntoni or he'll do something foolish!

Who told you that? Don Salvatore, right?

What's this? Nothing! It's mine.

Yours, is it?

Shame on you!

Let me go! Shame on you!

Who in Trezza would marry her now?

Lucia Valastro... whose name is on the lips of everyone in town... because of Don Salvatore.

One by one... the tree's branches wither and fall.

Greetings, 'Ntoni. Greetings.

Haven't seen you around. How are you?

All right.

You don't come down to the quay anymore?

Too bad you're not fishing anymore.

You're a good fisherman, but you'll forget how if you stay at home.

I've got lots of boats going out every night.

We'd rather starve to death! So you refuse?

Even after you see where your arrogance got you?

That's my business! Leave me alone!

Is it your new friends that make you so sure of yourself?

What's that supposed to mean?

I don't know... but word is out that 'Ntoni Valastro has become a shiftless bum... frequenting dives... oblivious to what's going on at home.

You louse!

If we're poor, it's because of you and others like you.

Now get out!

Mother of God! They're killing each other!

Get out of my house!

'Ntoni, you almost killed him!

I'll be back!

God is punishing you for your arrogance!

You're the worst family in Trezza!

'Ntoni, the eviction notice came.

"You are hereby notified... of the foreclosure on your mortgage due to non-payment.

The premises must be evacuated within ten days of this notice."

let's put the sheets in the chest too, Mother.

Mother, I'm going out for a minute.

I'll be right back.

Hurry back, Mara.

Is that you, Mara? I came to say good-bye.

I'm glad you thought of me.

Is it true you're leaving tonight?

The bank has taken our house. We must leave.

Good-bye, then.

From now on, your window will be closed... and so will my heart.

It's God's will, Nicola.

It's God's will, Mara.

We talk to each other and write to each other I've become engaged

To the blacksmith's daughter I've given her my heart kissing her in the dark Her father didn't want me But she smiled at me from afar

When you've finished this wall... where will you work next?

Wherever there's work.

With winter coming on, there's little to do.

I may go to Catania or Siracusa.

Well, I'll say good-bye now. Mother is waiting.

Nicola, remember when you said... that now that we were rich... you were too poor to marry me?

See how rich we've become?

We don't even own our four bare walls... or a tile off the roof of our house.

I don't care, Mara.

If I could do what my heart tells me...

I know what I'd do.

Now things have changed.

I can no longer hope to marry.

It's God's will.

You're from a better family than me.

You're from a family of owners.

But now that you have nothing... with my strong back and hard work... you'd never lack for bread.

Forgive me, Mara... for saying such things.

When you come back to town... come by the house we're moving to.

Good-bye, Nicola.

I have to go.

Is this to go in the trunk?

Now they must leave their house... in which so many Valastros were born and died.

They must turn their back on those walls... and on those stones worn smooth by their daily steps.

Let's go, Mother.

On behalf of everyone, I would like to thank our noble baroness...

who kindly accepted our invitation... to the christening of our new boats.

These boats will provide work for ten crews.

Here in Acitrezza... we're good, hard workers.

Except for someone who's been touched in the head... and wants to go his own way.

Long live our chief!

Our thanks to the people of Acitrezza... for helping to christen our new boats.

Now the Valastros have nothing left but their tears.

One day 'Ntoni goes down to the caulker's to see his old boat.

Hello, 'Ntoni.

There she was... with her proud planks whose knots he knew so well.

There's where Cola used to sit, and Grandpa... and Vanni, and even little Alfio, the boat boy.

Just like their house, their boat had now passed... into the hands of strangers.

What do you want? This is your boat, isn't it?

We're fixing it up for you.

That's nice, but...

I don't have the money to pay for it. You know that, don't you?

I know. Everyone says you're poor.

They don't like you in the village.

I know.

I'd help you if I could.

How could you help me?

Those who could help me are envious of each other.

They don't understand that what I did was for all their sakes... not just for mine alone... so now they've abandoned me.

Some are after my flesh, others are after my bones.

This boat belonged to my family... but now she's in bad shape.

They say it's my own fault.

But one day they'll see I was right... and that the day I lost it all will become a good thing for everyone.

We have to learn to care for each other... and unite for our common good.

Only then can we go forward.

"I'd help you if I could."

Those were the first kind words 'Ntoni had heard in a long time.

But no one can help him... to care for each other and unites for the common good.

Until then, 'Ntoni must find in himself the courage to start over.


Come see your boat again soon!

Were you going to sell this?


Alfio, come here!

Stop looking at that.

It'll only make you hungrier.

Well, look who's here! Old starvation-face!

Hunger drives the wolf from his lair, eh?

Let him pass!

Move back, all the way back!

'Ntoni, my boy, come in! look who's here!

The lost lamb has returned to the fold!

'Ntoni! The one who wanted to drag everyone else down with him.

You see now that your ideas don't work?

I'm putting together crews for four fleets.

There's a place for you.

Want to sign on?

Yes, I do.

Just you, or your brothers too?

With my brothers Vanni and Alfio as my helpers.

look at the mother hen with all her chicks!

Come on, I'll take the whole flock!

We know.

Lorenzo, assign them to Menicuccio's boat.

Will that be all right, 'Ntoni?

Menicuccio's got a good crew.

Go ahead and sign up.

'Ntoni, didn't you once tell me... that you'd rather starve to death than work for us again?

Where do I sign?

Here. And sign for your brothers too.

You'll get full pay. What about my brothers?

The crews are full. I can't change them now.

Vanni gets half pay. Little Alfio gets quarter pay as a boat boy.

All right?

Uncle Giovanni, you'll work the oars in Rosso's crew at full pay.

Fore or aft? If you don't like it, see Raimondo.

Why can't I sit aft, like I used to? It's not right!

Thank God we're taking you at all!

If you're gonna start complaining, you can buy your own boat too!

Here's another starving man coming to be rescued!

Carmelo, you only come to us when you're starving, eh?

Here's some bread. Eat, my friend!

We're really very easy to get along with!

You'll go with Pappalardo's crew.

We just want to give everyone a chance to earn his daily bread.

Right, Raimondo? We want to help everyone!


Bless me, Mother. Blessings.

Bless me, Mother. Blessings.

Take this, 'Ntoni.


it's good weather for anchovies.

Bless me, Mother. Blessings.

So the Valastros start over again... and return to the sea.

Bitter is the sea, and it's at sea that a sailor dies.