“The Wide Blue Road” is a film about a town of fishermen in Italy in the midst of a post-World War II economic slump. Upstanding anglers deal with poor catches and the usurious owner of the local fish freezer as they struggle to raise funds for a co-op and better their situation. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Squarci˜ (Yves Montand), has taken matters into his own hands, flushing game with explosives and running from the coast guard. Pressed with financial problems, in addition to difficulties with family and friends, everything he values is on the line – except maybe his fish.
As the catches become increasingly sparse, Squarci’s fishing methods become increasingly desperate. In the process, he manages to alienate himself from his fellow fishermen. The film sets up an interesting contrast between the isolation of Squarci˜ and the increasingly collective enterprises of the town folk. Fundamentally, “The Wide Blue Road” is an allegory pitting selfish capitalist ventures against idealized communist cooperation.
This film is the first work from renowned Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who went on to achieve international acclaim with “The Battle of Algiers.” It combines the style and the classic bravado heroism of 1950s films with a gritty natural landscape and cultural scene. The countryside and the sound quality give the film a documentary feel that contributes to its tough message: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
“The Wide Blue Road,” meticulously restored, makes its U.S. debut 44 years after its initial release, and it has certainly aged well.
Those awash in the iconography of the MTV generation may not find their niche here, but for fans of ’50s movies, “The Wide Blue Road” will make for a great evening at the theater.