Rice and Culture


Bitter rice Poster

"Riso Amaro" (Bitter rice) - 1949
Bitter Rice was one of the landmark films of the postwar Italian neorealist movement. Silvana Mangano portrays one of hundreds of women toiling slavishly in the Po Valley rice fields. The rice field scenes are realistic enough to pass muster as documentary footage, though they tend to be undercut in the English-language version by the amateurish dubbing. [1]

"La Risaia" - 1956
The original title "La risaia" actually means 'rice field' and the movie is an attempt to recapture the success of the earlier "Bitter Rice" as the rice field worker or 'mondina' and her travails. The story line is not original - spoiled rich boy loves enchanting poor girl who loves working class mechanic who loves her but has no money to marry - but there some good scenes of work in the rice field. [2]

Rice field scene from Riso Amaro

The Italian title is based on a pun: since the Italian word riso means both rice and laughter, Riso amaro is first read as bitter laughter, and then as bitter rice, in reference to the story.

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