Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Filippo Pucillo, Ernesto Mahieux, Ilaria Giorgino, Isabella Ragonese, Natale Russo
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sicilian peasant Salvatore yearns for a better life, one he believes exists only in the fabled land known as America where carrots grow taller than men, rivers flow with milk and golden coins rain from the trees. He sells ... more »
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'I lift my lamp beside the golden door': A Touching Tribute
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE GOLDEN DOOR (NUOVOMONDO) is for this viewer the finest film of the year to date. It is a masterpiece of concept, writing, directing, acting and cinematography. More importantly, this radiantly beautiful film is a much needed reflective mirror for us to view the history of immigration of 'foreigners' into America at a time when the very mention of the word 'borders' is a political fuse. Writer/director Emanuele Crialese has given us not only a deeply moving story, he has also provided a touchstone for viewers to re-visit the history of each of our origins: with the exception of the Native Americans, we all entered America as 'foreigners' at some point in our histories, and it is humbling to view this film with that fact in mind.
The film opens in turn of the century Sicily as poverty stricken widower Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato) and his brother Angelo (Francesco Casisa) climb a rocky hill to present their tokens to the cross to ask for a sign as to whether they should continue to struggle for existence on the island or go to America, the land of dreams. Mancuso's deaf mute son Pietro (Filippo Pucillo) runs to the top of the hill with postcards he has found with images of America (money growing on trees, fruits and vegetables larger than people, rivers of milk in California, etc), and Salvatore accepts this as the sign that he should move his family to America. After convincing his reluctant mother Fortunata (Aurora Quattrocchi) and his sisters Rita (Federica De Cola) and Rosa (Isabella Ragonese) to make the trip, he sells his only possessions (two donkeys, goats, and rabbits) and the man with the boat arranges their trip, giving the family shoes, appropriate clothing, and instructions to board an ocean liner as third class passengers. As the Mancuso family prepares to board they are asked for a photograph, and as they pose behind a painted set, an Englishwoman Lucy/Luce (Charlotte Gainsbourg) walks into the photo as though she were part of this peasant family. Lucy cannot board the boat for America without male escort.
The voyage begins and Luce in her gentle way identifies with the Mancuso family, finally solidifying her safe passage by proposing to Salvatore to marry her 'for convenience, not for love' when they arrive in America. Through a violent storm and living conditions that are appallingly poor, the multitude of third class passengers survive, bond, and eventually arrive at Ellis Island, believing their dream of America has been fulfilled. But everyone must pass harsh physical tests, de-lousing, and even intelligence testing to determine if they can enter America: the officials let them know that America does not want genetically inferior people entering the new world! Each woman must be selected by a man to marry on Ellis Island before she is allowed admission. The manner in which the Mancuso family remains united until a somewhat surprising ending is the closing of the tale.
Few of us understand the strict rules and harsh treatment immigrants face (or at least faced at the turn of the century on Ellis Island), and if we do we have elected to submerge that information. THE GOLDEN DOOR presents the case for immigrants' struggles in a manner that not only touches our hearts but also challenges our acceptance of current immigration legislation. But all political issues aside, THE GOLDEN DOOR is first and foremost a film of enormous beauty, exquisite photography, deeply felt performances by a huge cast, and a very sensitively written and directed story. The use of cinematic fantasy moments (characters swimming in a river of milk, coins falling over half buried bodies, cartoon-like vegetables, etc) only enhances the message of dreams of those whose lives in other countries fell short of the miracles expected in America. Antonio Castrignano's musical score is fascinatingly creative, using folk songs, contemporary music, and old tunes from this country. This is a film that deserves wide distribution, a movie that is a must see for everyone. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 07
A realistic and honest view of the immigrant experience
Robert J. Borowski | Patchogue, NY United States | 12/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie a few months ago at the Angelika Film center in New York City. I was mesmerized by the film. Being half Italian with my grandparents coming from Italy, this movie gave a very realistic and honest viewpoint of the immigrant experience. The people that came from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century were a brave and courageous group of people looking for a better life. This film portrays vividly the journey, trials and troubles they went through. From traveling to the port, the voyage on the ship, and the hell they went through at Ellis Island. I highly recommend this movie. Recently, I got to meet my Italian relatives for the first time at a cousins reunion. I look forward to traveling back to Italy and meeting the entire family and learning more about the family history.
Robert J. Borowski, Ph.D."
Bruce Frier | Ann Arbor, MI USA | 01/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although this movie is brutally realistic on one level in describing the poverty of the Sicilian family and the travails they suffer in emigrating to America, on another it is quietly but dazzlingly surrealistic. This is achieved by keeping the camera closely focused on the Mancusos and their immediate surroundings, and by a storytelling that is often lyrically slow in its movement.
Three scenes stand out as representative of the style: First, when the Mancuso family gets into their cart and they are seen very gradually disappearing behind the stone wall of their village, as their fellow villagers look on; at the last instant a mule bucks across the screen. Second, at the port, when the dense crowd of emigrants on the boat blend seamlessly into the crowd of those seeing them off, in a shot from above; then gradually the boat separates from the dock and a gulf opens between them. Third, when they are in Ellis Island and three Italians climb up on the frame of a huge window in order to see, and tell everyone about, the skyscrapers of Manhattan. In each of these scenes we do not see the wider context. We are, instead, held within the narrow image, which is both symbolic and strange.
In this type of film making, a huge amount depends on the acting, which is superb. Particularly worthy of note is the apparently mute son Pietro (played by Filippo Pucillo), whose face often registers the true indignation or bafflement of this family as they are subjected to the confusion of new experience. There is no sense of final hope; the film ends with them still inside Ellis Island, after they have made a crucial decision. But there is, particularly in the dream sequences, a wonderful sense of aspiration. The movie is neither tragic or comic, but it is deeply and richly human."
Very insightful and moving
F. Limina | USA | 02/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are of Sicilian heritage and your parents, grandparents, or greatgrandparents came through Ellis Island you should see this movie, especially if you were exposed to the Sicilian language as a child. They heard stories about America, the giant carrots and onions, streets paved with gold, wealth untold, the good life. They had nothing to loose, so they came to America. This is a very moving and thoughtful film. Crialase's captures all the poverty and misery that was part of late nineteenth early twentieth century Sicily. The folklore, mysticism, and fervent religious beliefs these simple people had. The film also captures their spirit, and bravery, to leave their homeland and voyage off to what they hoped was the land of milk and honey. The Ellis Island scenes in this film were especially eye opening. This is a very well-made movie. I hope he does a sequel, about their lives after they settle down in America. I would highly recommend this movie especially if you are of Sicilian or Italian background."