This film is highly reminiscent of another film, LA TERRA TREMA. Both might be considered Italian Neo-realist films, though LA GRAND STRADA AZZURA does feature a big-name actor in the lead (Yves Montand) and a big budget--somethings that a Neo-realist film cannot have to be technically this type of film. However, I am apparently one of the few reviewers on IMDb that really disliked LA TERRA TREMA--because the acting was so incredibly amateurish as well as the lousy camera-work. Instead, LA GRAND STRADA is beautifully filmed in color and Montand is the centerpiece around which all the non-professional actors are anchored.
The film itself is also a little more exciting because it deals not just with a family of fishermen like the other film, but a family that illegally uses homemade dynamite to fish!! And the negative impact on the fishing industry and the other fishermen makes for some great tension. While this certainly isn't a great film, it's a very, very good one and has an excellent ending to wrap it all together.
By the way, do not get the idea that I dislike Neo-realist films and prefer big-name actors and budgets. No, I actually love movies such as UMBERTO D, MIRACLE IN MILAN and THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING US (all by Vittorio De Sica)--it's just that there are also a couple truly awful and amateurishly made Neo-realist films as well that I really hate--and apart from STOMBOLI, LA TERRA TREMA is probably the most boring and unwatchable Neo-realist film I have seen. You are MUCH better off just watching this film--it's very similar but interesting--and avoid LA TERRA TREMA unless you are a masochist and you actually like very slow and miserable films.
Squarciò, a fisherman, lives with his family on a small island off the Dalmatian coast of Italy. Like his fellow villagers, Squarciò struggles against harsh living conditions, a scarcity of fish in nearby waters and exploitation by the local wholesaler. But while the other fishermen continue to use nets, he goes out to the open sea to fish illegally with bombs. But Squarciò borrows money, loses his boat, and in a moment of supreme desperation, has to bomb directly off-shore, causing the hatred and rejection of his fellow fishermen. Trying to save his family, Squarciò and his young sons sail their new boat out beyond the local waters and bomb-fish again. But this time, the sea exacts a terrible toll...—Dennis Doros & Amy Heller
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