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Top Customer Reviews
Robert J. Borowski, Ph.D.
The film opens in turn of the century Sicily as poverty stricken widower Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato) and his son Angelo (Francesco Casisa) climb a rocky hill to present their tokens to the cross to ask for a sign as to whether they should continue to struggle for existence on the island or go to America, the land of dreams. Mancuso's deaf mute son Pietro (Filippo Pucillo) runs to the top of the hill with postcards he has found with images of America (money growing on trees, fruits and vegetables larger than people, rivers of milk in California, etc), and Salvatore accepts this as the sign that he should move his family to America. After convincing his reluctant mother Fortunata (Aurora Quattrocchi) and two villagers Rita (Federica De Cola) and Rosa (Isabella Ragonese) to make the trip, he sells his only possessions (two donkeys, goats, and rabbits) and the man with the boat arranges their trip, giving the family shoes, appropriate clothing, and instructions to board an ocean liner as third class passengers.Read more ›
Three scenes stand out as representative of the style: First, when the Mancuso family gets into their cart and they are seen very gradually disappearing behind the stone wall of their village, as their fellow villagers look on; at the last instant a mule bucks across the screen. Second, at the port, when the dense crowd of emigrants on the boat blend seamlessly into the crowd of those seeing them off, in a shot from above; then gradually the boat separates from the dock and a gulf opens between them. Third, when they are in Ellis Island and three Italians climb up on the frame of a huge window in order to see, and tell everyone about, the skyscrapers of Manhattan. In each of these scenes we do not see the wider context. We are, instead, held within the narrow image, which is both symbolic and strange.
In this type of film making, a huge amount depends on the acting, which is superb. Particularly worthy of note is the apparently mute son Pietro (played by Filippo Pucillo), whose face often registers the true indignation or bafflement of this family as they are subjected to the confusion of new experience. There is no sense of final hope; the film ends with them still inside Ellis Island, after they have made a crucial decision. But there is, particularly in the dream sequences, a wonderful sense of aspiration. The movie is neither tragic or comic, but it is deeply and richly human.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I add my voice to the eloquent praise of this film, which I found personal and touching. I easily imagined my great-grandparents and all they endured to come to America. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gentleman & Scholar
I loved the movie when I saw it in a class, but it is the speed for a DVD player in the UK so I can't watch it here in MA. I am so disappointed. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
This film is worth watching. I watched it days ago and I am still thinking about it. Although some scenes are overly dramatic, one still gets a good idea of what it must have... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jo T.
All captioned. Not in English. Story line was good, but it takes work to read instead of listen.Published 17 months ago by SCM
Movie arrived in great shape; In Italian, with titles...story of an Italian family coming to Ellis Island at the turn of the century (like mine)
Anyone with European ancestors... Read more
The title of the movie refers to a portion of Emma Lazarus's poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Read morePublished 20 months ago by William F. Willis
I loved this little film since it was recommended to me by a friend that came from Sicily. I was interested to see just what my great grandparents went through coming here. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jack Marino
Set at the beginning of the 20th century we travel to impoverished Sicily where we meet Salvatore (Vincezo Amato - `Respiro') and his family. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Tommy Dooley
I first saw this film in a conversational Italian/culture class and immediately fell in love with it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Charles M. Corden
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