The story is set at the beginning of the 20th century in Sicily. Salvatore, a very poor farmer, and a widower, decides to emigrate to the US with all his family, including his old mother. ... See full summary »
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The story is set at the beginning of the 20th century in Sicily. Salvatore, a very poor farmer, and a widower, decides to emigrate to the US with all his family, including his old mother. Before they embark, they meet Lucy. She is supposed to be a British lady and wants to come back to the States. Lucy, or Luce as Salvatore calls her, for unknown reasons wants to marry someone before to arrive to Ellis Island in New York. Salvatore accepts the proposal. Once they arrive in Ellis Island they spend the quarantine period trying to pass the examinations to be admitted to the States. Tests are not so simple for poor farmers coming from Sicily. Their destiny is in the hands of the custom officers. Written by
"The Golden Door" personalizes the immigrant experience
"Nuovomondo (2006)" (shown in the U.S. as "The Golden Door") was written and directed by Emanuele Crialese. This film is different--and, I think, better--than most movies about impoverished people who leave Europe and come to the United States.
The film begins with scenes in a poor, rural region of Sicily. We always hear that Sicily is a rocky island, but you won't really understand the implications of that phrase until you see the first half-hour of "The Golden Door."
The middle section of the film is devoted to the long voyage to the U.S. Most immigration films show us ten minutes of people in the third-class section becoming seasick, and then show us the Statue of Liberty. Not this movie--we get a sense for life below decks, and it isn't charming. (We never actually see the Statue of Liberty, either.)
Finally, the typical movie will give us another ten minutes of Ellis Island, and then the immigrants are walking through New York's Lower East Side. Not here--the Ellis Island experience occupies about one-third of the footage.
Vincenzo Amato is outstanding as Salvatore Mancuso, who is bringing his two sons and his mother to the new world. Charlotte Gainsbourg is equally good as Lucy Reed, a mysterious Englishwoman who also speaks fluent Italian.
There are some strange touches in the movie, especially the sound track with songs by Nina Simone. There must be some symbolism there, but I couldn't make sense of it.
Another reviewer has already pointed out that this film will do better viewed in a theater rather than on DVD. Still, large screen or small screen, it's worth seeking out.
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