La Terra Trema (1948)

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Released 23-Feb-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Crew-Luchino Visconti (Director)
Trailer-Ossessione, Jean De Florette, Cinema Paradiso
Trailer-Manon Des Sources
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1948
Running Time 153:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Luchino Visconti
Studio
Distributor
Universalia
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Luchino Visconti
Antonio Pietrangeli
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Willy Ferrero


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    La Terra Trema is a neorealist masterpiece from the great Italian director Luchino Visconti. Made in the small town of Aci Trezza in Sicily, the cast features local non-actors in a story about the exploitation of the working-class fishermen.

    The story revolves around Antonio Valastro, whose family has fished in the waters off the town seemingly forever. The fishermen can barely make ends meet as they are paid low prices by the wholesalers. In an attempt to break the power of the wholesalers, Antonio convinces his family to mortgage their home so that they can go into the business of selling as well as catching the fish. Events, however, conspire against them.

    The film is full of naturalistic performances that draw you into the story, even if the actors are not always convincing. Visconti's direction draws you into the story and even though the film runs more than two and a half hours it is never boring. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but it is still powerful and moving almost sixty years after it was filmed. This is in part due to the realism of the settings, removed from the Italian studios and shot on real locations with real people. I note that the assistant directors were Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli, both later noted film directors themselves.

    It is a pity that the transfer provided here is not the best. I am not sure if good quality source material for this film exists, but it is certainly possible to imagine it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.29:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.37:1, and the aspect ratio of this DVD suggests a VHS master was used.

    The transfer is not very sharp, with the source material looking like it was 16mm most of the time. The transfer would be consistent with a VHS master in quality. Virtually all of the time the on-screen events are clear, but there is a lack of detail to the transfer. Shadow detail is virtually non-existent. Contrast is found wanting at times.

    The black and white transfer suffers from low level noise in the darker sequences, with the result being that there are no true blacks or whites on display. There is also what appears to be aliasing, but this could also be due to the frame jumping and causing flickering effects on some objects.

    There is a constant flicker throughout due to variations in brightness. The frame often jumps slightly as well.

    There are a myriad of film artefacts on display, ranging from small white flecks through to reel change markings, splice marks and other instances of print damage.

    English subtitles are burned in, but do not move when the frame shakes, indicating that they were added on already poor material. They are in a white typeface with a grey rectangular highlight that varies in opacity according to the brightness of the background. The subtitles seem well-timed and there are no glaring spelling or grammatical errors.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change somewhat disruptively placed at 82:49.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio track is not dissimilar in quality to the video. The audio sounds constricted much of the time, with continuous hiss and crackle plus occasional pops and minor dropouts. Dialogue is clear most of the time.

    The music score is quite restrained but undistinguished, with no memorable themes. It tends to soar at the appropriate moments though it does not distract from the story.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Again, an important film with practically no extras.

Main Menu Audio

    Some audio from the film is heard over the static main menu.

Biographies-Crew-Luchino Visconti (Director)

    A four-page text biography of the director.

Trailer-Ossessione, Jean De Florette, Cinema Paradiso, Manon Des Sources (11:46)

    Trailers for other Umbrella releases.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The US Region 1 release does not sound as though it has a significantly different transfer from the Region 4, but it does have removable subtitles. It has no extras.

    At this stage, I will have to call this a draw.

Summary

    A fine and rewarding neorealist classic.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is poor.

    No extras of substance.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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