Emanuele Crialese wrote and directed this movie from 2006. It is an incredible piece of work about European migration to America just before the first World War. The ancient Sicilian traditions and mores are very much challenged by the process of getting to and past the ‘Golden Door’ of the new world. So lovingly and carefully crafted is this epic that it has illicited responses of surprise that this isn’t black and white and isn’t a documentary made back then. Crialese interviewed all 700 of his extras to give them the ‘backgrounding’ necessary to make them look and act the part of bewildered immigrants.
I was touched by the acting of the entire cast, especially by Aurora Quattrocchi who plays Fortunata Mancuso, the wily matriarch of the family. And then her son Salvatore Mancuso played so believably by Vincenzo Amato. Outstanding expression with his eyes. The alien-ness of the English immigrant, Lucy Reed, played by the french actress Chalotte Gainsbourg. And the expressiveness of Salvatore’s sons Angelo and Pietro (Francesco Casisa and Filippo Pucillo) done with so little dialogue. Outstanding.
That one scene near the beginning where Salvatore and Angelo are climbing, barefoot, up the mountain, each with a stone in his mouth. Amazing. For just that part alone I want to own this.
This ain’t for the kids but for anyone interested in a very real depiction of Ellis Island, of pre-war Sicily and of the old world smashing into the new, then this is a must. Absolutely recommended. The making of documentary on the DVD is also not to be missed.
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