THE CAST AND PRODUCTION TEAM WEAVE THEIR MAGIC as they recreate the awe of
and the impact on the Italians who were part of the mass immigration to the
United States early in the 20th Century. Martin Scorsese presents Golden
Door a moving yet unsentimen-tal film of imagination and charm
that highlights the difficulties facing the proud and naïve people who sought
a better life for their families in a new world.
Directed by the multi-talented Emanuele Crialese (Once We Were Strangers
and Respiro), Golden Door focuses on the lives of the Sicilian
Mancuso family matriarch Fortunata (Aurora Quattrocchi), who is something
of a wise woman to whom the villagers take their problems; her son Salvatore
(Vincenzo Amato), who believes he has had divine inspiration to go to America,
and his two sons Angelo (Francesco Casisa) and Pietro (Filippo Pucillo).
Salvatore's family are peasant farmers who have been working the land for generations.
When he makes the momentous decision to uproot his family because he
has heard that California has rivers of milk and he has seen faked photographs
of giant vegetables, enormous chickens and money trees that are supposed to
be part of life in America he truly believes that by leaving behind his
heritage and age-old superstit-ions and by defying the spirits of his dead ancestors,
he will be taking his family to a better life in a new world.
Having sold everything he owns and resplendent in pre-owned clothing (cue some
great shots here), Salvatore sets off with his family to board the ship that
will take them four long weeks across "Big Luciano" the Atlantic Ocean.
Under his protection are two young women, Rita D'Agostini (Frederica De Cola)
and Rosa Napolitano (Isabella Ragonese), who are betrothed to two wealthy Americans.
But before they go on board, the enigmatic Lucy Reed (Charlotte Gainsbourg)
attaches herself to the family.
Visually inspiring and authentically presented, Golden Door was origin-ally
released under the name Nuovomonde (New World) and is in Italian with
clear subtitles. The English-speaking world will be won over by the character
played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, a British lady who is des-perate to get to America
and will do anything even secure herself a stranger as a husband
to pass through the 'Golden Door' to become an American citizen.
Entry to this land of milk and honey is not easy. At Ellis Island there are
disappointments and problems to be overcome. The difficulties experienced are
harsh and the place known as The Island of Tears is an effective barrier for
all but the indomitable.
Stylish touches, beautifully shot, abound in this film. The scene-setting is
a little slow of necessity but once the film opens out it becomes compelling.
The bleakness of the hillsides of Sicily where, in the open-ing sequence, Salvatore
and his sons climb over rocky ground to reach the top while carrying stones
in their mouths to drop at the foot of a cross, is presented at its rugged best
and the contrasts of the dream sequences are delightful to watch. The sequences
shot on board
ship have a genuine period feel and the uncomfortable voyage does
not pass without its drama. The film score is well put together and
the song Oh, Sinner Man seemed to sit well with one of the dream sequences:
"The devil [America] said Sinner Man [the immigrants], step right in."
Filmed in Buenos Aires, Golden Door is a magnificent, dreamy vision of
a bygone age that has been written and directed by Emanuele Crialese with TLC.
[After I wrote this, I discovered that the director has Sicilian roots, although
he was born in Rome MW]. Charlotte Gainsbourg
and Vincenzo Amato work well together, heading a credible cast of fine actors
and the hand-picked extras who were the children of Italian immigrants to Argentina.
Golden Door was released on DVD on
29 October (2007) with a RRP of £17.99 and features The Making Of Golden
Door. Cert: PG | Feature Running Time: 113 minutes (approx) | Feature Aspect
Ratio: 2.35:1 | Colour: PAL | Stereo 5.1 | Italian language with subtitles |
Catalogue Number: OPTD01073.
"Magnificent" The Independent
"Captivating" The Sunday Express
"Remarkable. A visionary motion picture" The Wall Street Journal
"A beautiful dream of a film" The New York Times (A O Scott)