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Harry Dean Stanton,
Elia Kazan, ethnic Greek but Turkish by birth, tells the story of the struggles of his uncle - in this account named Stavros Topouzoglou - in emigrating to America. In the 1890's, the young, kind-hearted but naive Stavros lived in Anatolia, where the Greek and Armenian minorities were repressed by the majority Turks, this repression which often led to violence. Even Stavros being friends with an Armenian was frowned upon. As such, Stavros dreamed of a better life - specifically in America - where, as a result, he could make his parents proud by his grand accomplishments. Instead, his parents, with most of their money, sent Stavros to Constantinople to help fund the carpet shop owned by his first cousin once removed. What Stavros encountered on his journey, made on foot with a small donkey, made him question life in Anatolia even further. Once in Constantinople, his resolve to earn the 110 Turkish pound third class fare to the United States became stronger than ever. But try after try,... Written by
Of all the films he had directed, this one was Elia Kazan's favorite film, as it was very personal to him. See more »
[On his knees to Stavros without sincerity and finishing on a note of menace]
I beg your forgiveness. I cannot live without your forgiveness. Before all this company I beg your forgiveness. Brother, don't leave me on my knees like this. Don't insult my soul. Brother, I have never been on my knees to a Greek. Brother, I'm warning you, with a Turk there can be brotherliness or its opposite. I'm warning you, brother... brother... brother... Too bad... oh... Too bad.
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Director Elia Kazan narrates the main portion of the closing credits, reading the words as they appear on the screen, using complete sentences such as "The cinematography was by Haskell Wexler." See more »
Imagine a film like "The Godfather" receiving almost no audience, relegated to the occasional appearance on the AMC channel, barely being released on VHS or DVD, and you will have some idea of the tragic fate of this lost epic masterpiece. As hard as it is to believe, this may be the prolific director Elia Kazan's greatest film achievement, yet hardly anyone has seen it. This is a film on the epic scale of "The Godfather," about a young Armenian man's escape from Turkish persecution, flight from Anatolia, and eventual immigration to Ellis Island - all based upon the the experiences of the director's uncle. What is also tragic is the fact that I can think of no other film which portrays the cruel persecution and genocide inflicted upon the Armenian minority by the Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century (which Hitler correctly pointed to as proof that the world would look the other way at the genocide he had planned in Europe in the 1930s). Every period detail in the film is perfect, from the Oscar-winning costume design to the set design, Greek folk music score, veteran Haskell Wexler's cinematography, and acting - especially lead actor Giallelis, whose intensity brings to mind some of Brando's early work.
It is obvious that this film was a very personal piece of film-making for Kazan. And though I don't want to dwell as others do on Kazan's checkered past in his naming of communist colleagues for HUAC in the 1950s, it is interesting to note a parallel in the main character Stavros' personal anguish in making the choice to leave his wealthy wife and use her money to immigrate to the United States; both men made the conscious decision to drive a wedge between them and their past relationships. This is truly a film for all Americans to treasure, and if I had my way, I would make sure it was broadcast every 4th of July just as "It's a Wonderful Life" is broadcast every Christmas. As a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants, this is a film virtually every American can relate to. I can't figure out why it is so obscure.
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