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.
- Desperate and poor Southern Italian family seeks a way out, and, having heard reports of rivers running in milk and coins falling off of trees, leave their stony rural cottage and buy passage to America. The trip to the boat, aboard the boat, and at Ellis Island is one of wonder and hope and usually very little dialogue. A magical movie that succeeds in illustrating the other, humble, ordinary and tough passage to the new world without mafia dons or violence. The huge disadvantage of illiteracy is beautifully illustrated here, and the risks associated with leaving behind everything. Amazing, touching, real. The customs and rules of early 20th century already seem archaic, even though it was less than 100 years ago.
For example, in the film, single women were not permitted entry into the US, which is why Lucy was seeking a man to marry.