It's hard to believe that I am the first person to comment on this masterpiece at this website. One reason could be that it's not that easy to see. Thank God for Turner Classic Movies, which is where I finally saw it. I'm happy to see that there's a DVD available.
This is one of those amazing films that uses only non-professionals and in which they perform as well, if not better, than any professional could. The actors are the inhabitants of a small Sicilian fishing village. The film is cliche-ridden (the Marxist variety) and at times predictable. I didn't care about any of this. The film is a true epic about a few people trying to break out of their rut of exploitation and the wretchedness of their everyday living, and failing. The film thus achieves the status of true tragedy. This one shouldn't be missed.
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