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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
Estelle Helmsley, who plays the Greek grandmother, was actually an African-American actress. See more »
[Talking about money]
Now then, big money. Big money is fertile. It procreates. How I don't know. But it reproduces itself. Every time you look, there's more, but there's only two ways men like us can get big money... steal it, or, if you're young, marry. But you can't get it by work.
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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 »
A touching movie showing how a personal story fits into world history.
Elia Kazan has been often criticized about his personal choices in some parts of life that are now history. It is understandable that this kind of criticism -though totally justified in some cases- should not be the lens through which we will judge his works of art. In particular, "America America" can only be described as a very well directed film "carrying" many of the truths of multicultural Asia Minor during the last decades of Ottoman Empire. It accurately depicts the contradiction between cosmopolitan Constantinople and the more "oriental" villages of Asia Minor. The dream of a new life in a new and free land like America is excellently presented in the movie together with the strong bonds of the members of a family and the social status of Greeks, Turks and Armenians at that region back then. The fact that Elia Kazan put a great deal of himself in the movie makes it more worth-seeing. Thank you for reading.
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