Thursday, June 14, 2007


Original title: Nuovomondo
In Italian with English subtitles

Prior to the opening of Ellis Island, immigrant processing was the responsibility of the state. In 1855, the State of New York began processing immigrants through the facilities at Castle Garden in response to a massive influx of immigrants, many escaping famine in Ireland. This did not prove to be the best possible site, though, because as the new immigrants left the facilities, they were routinely exploited by con men, who sold them phony tickets to various destinations, took their money in exchange for non-existent jobs, or found other ways to part the unwary immigrant with his or her money.

In 1892 the United States government selected Ellis Island for the new federal immigration center for the entire country. On the island, it would be easier to screen and protect the new immigrants before they proceeded out onto the streets of New York.

As the immigrants arrived in the Ellis Island Great Hall, exhausted and overwhelmed from their long journey, they were herded through inspections. In order to gain entry to the United States, they needed to be disease-free and prove the ability to earn their way in their new home. Inspectors examined them, looking for any sign of illness, and those with suspicious symptoms were marked and detained for further inspection. They were also asked a myriad of questions as to their origins, their past, how much money they had, where they were going, and their intentions in America.

Many were detained for various reasons, and some had to have relatives come to claim them. About two percent were turned back. In these heartbreaking cases, families were often forced to decide on the spot whether to split up or go back with those that were denied access.

Once they passed the inspections, immigrants collected their baggage and exchanged their money for U.S. currency. There was also a railroad agent available from whom they could purchase tickets for the next leg of their journey.

Vincenzo Amato: Salvatore Mancuso, a poor Sicilian farmer
Francesco Casisa: his oldest teenage son Angelo
Filippo Pucillo: his youngest Pietro
Aurora Quattrocchi: Salvatore’s mother Fortunata
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Lucy Reed, a British lady

There are more than a few really creative and innovative shots along with some lovely images of the Italian countryside and some mystical ones. The acting comes across as natural and the conditions depicted look real.

However with just the least amount of effort editing out the repetitive extended parts this would be a marvellous picture instead of one that tends to drag on and on.

for brief graphic nudity.

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