The fishing of the gigantic tuna, weighing between 100 and 400 kgs, was for centuries carried out in the Central Mediterranean, using the “tonnara” method. This is a huge complex of nets, which had a length of 6 to 7 miles.
Sicily was the center of this activity, with tens of “tonnare” and many miles of tuna nets.
The killing (mattanza) of the fish was the climax of the operation, the epic battle between man and beast, life and survival, turned into a deafening and hallucinatory cycle of screams, blood and the clamour of the dying giant.
This fishing expedition was recorded for the first time by the boys of Panaria, underwater, in the “death chamber”, the narrow and confined space of the net, where the final slaughter takes place. The cameramen manage to transmit to the audience the mounting panic of the tunas, as they are being defeated within their own element.
This fishing method is no longer practiced. Thus, the scenes of this film are an historic document about the Sicilian customs and traditions.The songs and the screams, the orders and the voices of the tuna fishermen (tonnatori), were recorded live, with one of the first tape recorders (with cord), which were on the market at the time.
Script: Marcella Rossellini
Music: Renzo Rossellini