Golden Door (mostly in Italian)
Rating = B
This is a
highly stylized image of immigration from Italy (the old world) to
the United States (the new world) at the turn of the 20th century.
The movie emphasizes the almost medieval culture of the peasants of
the old world, their naivete about the possibilities of the new
world, the exploitation of the immigrants, their confusion about what
is happening to them during the trip and in the Ellis Island
immigration halls, the entry qualification examinations they are
given that come from a culture they know nothing of, the
arbitrariness of the decisions about who gains entry and who does not
and flawed “scientific” basis of the decisions, the (surprising to
me) concept that unmarried women could not gain entry, and the
resulting wedding process. Altogether, the movie was an eye-opener
and made me think about the process by which my own relatives gained
entrance to the United States during the same period. The story of
the mysterious English woman among the Italian peasants is never
fully explained but does help move the story (and themes) along.
Maybe a stylized (highly theatrical) rather than a realistic
presentation of the story was used to subtly show that not much about
the immigration process is different today.