From Cinemasud San Diego: Tornando a casa – Returning home (Vincenzo Marra 2001)


Sunday October 13, 2007 Cinemasud continues its path.

It’s late, I have to hurry. They won’t wait for me. I push my lazy legs pedaling as fast as I can.

I finally arrive after 10 infinite panting minutes. I am breathless, but at the reception everybody is there. Pasquale, Clarissa, Serena, and sweet Victor. Grazie in any case. I hate watching a movie already started. Clarissa after a list of due thanks, introduces the film Tornando a casa (Returning home – like we decided to translate – she says) by Vincenzo Marra, 2001.

A small crew of 3 Neapolitan fishermen and an Algerian is working in Sicily. They sail further though, they expand their Mediterranean territory to the richer waters of Africa, more fish, four times the money. Dangerous clandestine fishing.

While Salvatore, (Sasa’ local nickname) the owner of the boat, and Giovanni, the oldest of the group, are excited to have this chance to make more money Franco, the youngest, is worried and not in favor of this practice. Samir, does not have too many choices. He is a clandestine everywhere. A few more days just to make the money.

The next night is the end of the job. They are shut, they loose the nets, they go back to scoop them up, they break the boat, so they decide to go back to Naples. Back in Naples, they try to settle in the local fishing business. But how can we expect that things would improve in such a movie coming from the old realistic school? Verga taught us, Visconti too.

In Naples (Pozzuoli), the crew is sabotaged by the local mafia who want to control the fishing job putting Sasa’ in big debts, and Rosa, Franco’s wife dies in an accident. Giovanni has to bring his young son to work to help earning money and support the family.

The only way of surviving is to go back to Sicily where they can fish yet not live. And Franco takes the only opportunity to actually leave. A symbolic end. Franco mingling among African clandestine will be sent back to his country, where with no ids or connections, will represent its rescue.

It’s a sad reality. A sad life, away from home and from the family. We wouldn’t even imagine that it still exists today. This movie definitely follows a neo-realistic foundation. It has been compared to La Terra Trema by Luchino Visconti (1948) film about the tragedy of the sea life of fishermen in Sicily – as many of the actors are not even professionals. And they only speak dialect.

Who are these characters today? Sasa’ owner of a boat, could be considered a lucky man – within the environment – however lonely, fishing for all his life, the group-crew is the only real family. Giovanni, old, needs to support his a big family. Franco is young and – with nothing else – has the classic American dream, although his young wife Rosa, is not willing to it.

Samir is a clandestine everywhere, in his country won’t be accepted, and in Italy could be resent back to his country. He has nothing to lose, because he already lost everything, his identity. And this, in the end, would actually result from the sad perspective of Franco a new possibility of life. The last chance.

By Laura Bianconcini

A Native Italian from Rome who is master disseminator of Italian culture through travel.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *