Italian Neorealism: A Cultural History

William Wall at The Dublin Review:

Some years ago a friend brought us to see the town of Acitrezza in Sicily where, arguably, the first great neorealist film was made. La Terra Trema (The Earth Trembles) was, according to its director, Luchino Visconti, filmed with actors “chosen from among the inhabitants of this town: fishermen, girls, labourers, stonemasons, fish wholesalers”. The dialogue was Sicilian, very much a language in itself and coeval with Italian. Our friend told us that the woman who played one of the sisters, Lucia, who is seduced by the marshal Don Salvatore in the film, was afterwards rejected by her community and never found a husband because they believed she had become a whore. The story may be a kind of urban legend, but there are so many layers to it that it’s worth unpacking a little.

First of all, the implication is that the citizens of what was then a tiny and remote fishing port interpreted what they saw on screen as a kind of reality; because the woman had been seduced on screen, and part of the seduction took place before their eyes, she had, in fact, been seduced.

more here.