La terra trema: language
in Cinema – Italy
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La terra trema premiered at the 1948 Venice Film Festival. It was Luchino Visconti's second film. By its extremism and rigour, there is nothing comparable to the linguistic choices of La terra trema, neither in contemporary neorealist cinema nor in the history of Italian cinema generally, with the exception perhaps of L'albero degli zoccoli by Ermanno Olmi. Fundamentally shot in direct sound, Visconti's 'cherished' and incomprehensible Sicilian has no links with the dubbed Roman in Vittorio De Sica's Ladri di biciclette nor with the plurality of languages of Paisa. The men's voices in La terra trema become one with natural sounds and the sounds of work, re-echoed in a single musical scene. The recording in direct sound in La terra trema is an exemplary orchestration of the movement and speech, sounds and gestures, settings and characters, all perfectly pre-planned and calibrated almost as if they were 'already edited'.

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