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.